A state Senate committee agrees that one of the keys to fixing persistent child welfare problems at Florida's Department of Children and Families is more and better-trained caseworkers. The panel has passed a group of bills with a package of solutions for a very troubled system.
Here's WLRN reporter Rick Stone's radio story.
The biggest of the panel's three bills requires at least 80 percent of newly hired investigators to hold social work degrees. Current staff would be exempt, but they could return to school for social work degrees under a tuition subsidy program in the bill.
Other provisions included a state web site with information about child abuse deaths, a team of rapid responders to analyze child death, and the creation of an academic institute on child protection issues. It would comprise the social work schools at Florida's state universities.
The bill still has a long way to go. Governor Scott has recommended $47 million in new funding for additional investigators. But Senate President Don Gaetz not yet clear how much money the Legislature is inclined to approve.