Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

January 25, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Gillespie,
Press Secretary, DCF Communications
(850) 717-4450

~ Children removed from their parents in 12 border counties will be able to live with relatives more quickly ~

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – The Florida Department of Children and Families and the Georgia Department of Human Services announce a new agreement that will make it easier for children removed near the Florida/Georgia border to be placed with relatives in the border state.

Historically, the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children places children who are removed from their parents with relatives in another state. This law, adopted by all 50 states, has involved a lengthy process while children who want to be with their relatives wait for months in a foster home. This innovative agreement between 12 border counties will have children placed with their family in as little as a week.

" This unique agreement with Georgia will help many children live with family members when they are no longer safe at home," said Florida DCF Secretary David Wilkins. " We know that children fare better when they live with relatives and anything we can do to make that happen more quickly will only improve their future."

The Florida counties that will be part of this agreement are Baker, Clay, Columbia, Duval and Nassau in the Northeast Region. The Georgia counties included are Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Glynn, McIntosh and Ware. Employees in these counties of both states will be trained in the requirements of this new agreement so that children will be able to move more quickly to be with their relatives during a difficult time in their lives.

"One of our goals for the child welfare system in Georgia is to strengthen families and attempt to ensure that all children are in safe and stable environments," said Clyde L. Reese III, Georgia DHS Commissioner. "This groundbreaking agreement with the state of Florida will further that goal in the selected counties by allowing our states to work together to ensure safety, permanency, and reunification when possible."

The agreement will only apply to children who have been removed by the state from their parents or guardian because of abuse or neglect. A home study and interview with the prospective relative placement will be conducted, and a written report will be forwarded quickly to the other state that will recommend placement based on the safety and well-being of the child, an appropriate living environment and background checks.