Mark Danish urges Rick Scott to sign series of child-welfare measures

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State Rep. Mark Danish is urging Gov. Rick Scott to sign the major overhaul to Florida’s child protection laws, which Florida lawmakers passed on Friday.

Now on the governor’s desk is a combination of child-welfare measures approved unanimously on the last day of the 2014 session, including HB 1221: Protection of Children, sponsored by Danish. The bills require the troubled Department of Children and Families to better manage abuse and neglect cases, and provide more disclosure on vulnerable children in the state..

HB 1221 seeks to increase transparency and effectiveness by requiring the DCF to list and review the deaths of abused and neglected children under five. Other provisions will strengthen the speed and quality of child abuse and neglect investigations.

A call for sweeping reforms came after a series of reports in the Miami Herald emerged of hundreds of child neglect and abuse cases had been mishandled by the DCF, resulting in 477 child deaths over the past six years.

The Herald also reported Scott did not make a public commitment whether he would sign it.

“I urge the Governor to promptly support these long overdue changes to Florida’s child welfare system,” The Tampa Democrat said in a statement. “By strengthening the state’s workforce, response time and overall quality of investigations, we will be able to put the health and safety of children first.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, but this is a major step in the right direction.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.