The Tampa Bay area’s children’s services and foster care system is in jeopardy, raising concerns about the future. Kelly Parris, executive director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, and Robin Rosenberg, the deputy director of Florida’s Children First, joined MidPoint host Shelley Reback on Jan. 19 to explore the issue.
You can listen to the entire program here:
After the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office opened a criminal investigation into child abuse and neglect at Eckerd Connects, the private nonprofit announced late last year they would stop providing child welfare services in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough. The need for a replacement has brought the system to a crossroads: Should child and family welfare be handled by another private organization, or should the care of these children be placed in the hands of the state?
“I don’t know that privatization is the right way to go for social services,” Parris told MidPoint. Handing welfare off to another private care system only results in the same type of risks. Ideally, she said, the role would be filled by each county’s specific Department of Children and Families.
With Eckerd Connects suddenly gone, the foster system is in crisis, Rosenberg said. Little background support, a dwindling supply of caseworkers and a growing number of at-risk children makes the need for assistance and awareness a top priority in the Tampa Bay Area.