Newsroom

Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott
Governor

David E. Wilkins
Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 29, 2011
MEDIA CONTACT:
John Harrell
Northeast Region Communications
(904) 723-5470/(904) 233-7792

DCF Releases Annual Report For Northeast Florida Region
Agency Serves More Florida Residents Than Any Other State Agency
Key Area Statistics Show The Need For Assistance

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – The Florida Department of Children and Families’ Northeast Region has just released its latest Annual Report regarding the 2010-2011 fiscal year. During these challenging times, more children and families need assistance than ever before. DCF is responding effectively, providing important services to thousands of Northeast Florida residents.

"We are proud of the outstanding efforts made by our hardworking employees," explained Pattie Mallon, Northeast Region Interim Managing Director. "Thanks to their efforts, thousands of children and families in Northeast Florida are free from abuse and neglect, have food and necessities that they need to survive, are more safe in child care facilities, and receive treatment for substance abuse and mental health problems."

The latest DCF Northeast Region Annual Report shows how the region is executing the Department’s Strategic Vision, which has four points: Empower Frontline Staff, Effect Program Improvements, Enable Family Accountability and Engage Communities.

DCF serves more people than any other state agency. Here is a brief summary of DCF’s accomplishments in the 20-county Northeast Florida region, which includes the metro areas of Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and Gainesville:

DCF's Northeast Region has contributed to Florida being ranked as the number one state in the country for accuracy in food stamp processing for the second year in a row. This is despite Florida having one of the biggest increases of any state in the number of people receiving food stamps.

In Duval County, 32 percent of children are helped by food stamp benefits from DCF. Compared to the previous fiscal year, the number of Duval County residents receiving food stamps increased by 16.4 percent. Over the past eight years, the number of people receiving food stamps in Duval County increased by 223 percent. Currently, DCF provides food stamps to 174,794 Duval County residents.

More than 600 children were adopted out of foster care in the Region during the 2010-2011 fiscal year, and are now safely with new, permanent families.

Northeast Region employees received 13 Prudential/Davis Productivity Awards. These awards are the state’s most prestigious honors for efficiency and innovation. The total cash savings to Florida taxpayers as a result of our region’s award-winning initiatives is more than $5 million dollars.

Success In Providing Food Stamps And Economic Assistance

Despite the dramatic increase in demand for assistance, DCF’s Northeast Florida employees have responded with improved service. The average number of overdue applications for assistance declined by 41 percent compared to last year, and the average number of days needed to process these applications remained virtually even compared to last year.

We have created a new Public Benefits Integrity Unit to ensure that only Floridians who deserve assistance are receiving it. We will be implementing real-time identity verification and using state-of-the-art technology to battle fraud. During the 2010-2011 fiscal year, DCF’s food stamp fraud investigators in the Northeast Region saved taxpayers $6.5 million dollars.

Keeping More Children Safely With Their Families: The Impact Of The Foster Care Redesign

In the Northeast Region, DCF and its community-based care partners have now reduced the number of children in foster care by 40 percent over the past four years. This means that more children are remaining with their families, with services provided to help keep them safe from future abuse and neglect. The top priority of DCF is child safety, and if investigators find a child in danger due to extreme abuse or neglect, that child would be removed from his home for his own protection. However, the vast majority of cases do not rise to this level.

The successful Foster Care Redesign effort has resulted in a 37 percent decline in the number of children removed from their homes during DCF investigations since December 2006.

Up to 75 percent of child abuse reports involve families with substance abuse or mental health issues. As a result, DCF's substance abuse and mental health program is increasing its integration with the Department’s child protective investigations program.

Making Accomplishments While Increasing Efficiency

Surprisingly, DCF has made these accomplishments despite being part of the smallest state government in the country, based on the ratio of state employees to state residents. The Department has dramatically reduced its bureaucracy, slashing administrative costs from 12 percent of its budget down to 4 percent.

The full Annual Report for DCF’s Northeast Region is available on the Internet at: http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/regions/northeast/docs/annual_report_09-10.pdf

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