Communities Connected for Kids has much to celebrate this month, beginning with the number of children removed from home due to abuse or neglect. That number decreased significantly in Florida’s southeast region, which includes Broward, Palm Beach, and the counties covered by CCKids – Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.
From July 2020 to January 2021, Child-welfare professionals in the area removed 205 fewer children than the same period the year before. Even better, Judicial Circuit 19 - the smallest part of the region made up of Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast - was responsible for 45 percent of the total reduction.
While last spring’s school closures and resultant decrease in calls to Florida’s abuse hotline may have had something to do with that reduction, it’s not the whole story, said Christina Kaiser, CCKids community relations director.
Other regions throughout Florida experienced more removals, Kaiser said. Most telling of all is the low rate of removals per victim. In other words, she said, there may be fewer children coming into care because of last year’s shutdown, but the rate by which those same children are removed from home is also down – from 5.38 children per 100 alleged victims to 3.96. That’s the lowest the measure has been since 2011.
This says a great deal about the local system of care and the mental-health, substance-abuse and child-abuse prevention providers whose programs are engaging families early and preventing removals down the road.
“Safely serving children in their own homes greatly diminishes the trauma and disruptions that occur as a result of removal,” Kaiser said. “That requires strong programs and services that can be counted on to keep children safe.”
Strong services and a reduction in children removed from home are only the latest successes for CCKids. As of February, nearly 80 percent of all CCKids cases were eligible for federal dollars, minimizing the dependence on state funds and ranking CCKids among the top performers in the state.