Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

May 18, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Gillespie,
Press Secretary,
(850) 717-4450
DCF Communications
~ More than 6,000 children were reunified with their families last year in Florida ~

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Last year in Pinellas County, a young mother spoke about the years of her life that were stolen through drug addiction. She had been in and out of her children's lives, all of whom had been removed from her care. With the help of the Department of Children and Families and our community partners, this mother was able to get the treatment she needed and celebrate when her children came home to a happy, healthy parent.

Recently in Santa Rosa County, a social worker was able to locate the father of a child who had been removed from his home. The father had not been involved in the child's life, and the father was scared that he would not be able to build a relationship with his son after being absent for so many years. Working with the Department of Children and Families and our community partners, this father is now an active and engaged part of his son's life.

These families are two examples of the thousands around the state who were reunified last year after proving they can safely care for their children.

"Many parents who get involved in the child welfare system need to be better prepared to be good parents. Our agency and our partners provide substance abuse and mental health treatment, parenting classes and many more tools so these parents can improve their skills and be able to reunify with their children," said Secretary David Wilkins. "We know that most children do better long-term in their own homes with their own families if their safety and well-being is a priority."

In 2011, 6,034 children were reunified with their parents after the parents completed case plan goals and benefitted from them. After a child is removed from a home, parents must complete a case plan with tasks specific to their needs in order to ensure children will be safe when they return home. A judge makes the final decision to reunify children.

Gov. Rick Scott has declared the time between Mother's Day and Father's Day as a “Family Reunification Celebration.” His proclamation reads: "Family Reunification Celebrations from Mother's Day through Father's Day are observances to praise mothers and fathers for expressing love and commitment to their sons and daughters by bringing their families back together to ensure safety, well-being and permanency for the children."

Family Reunification Celebration Proclamation.