TAMPA — With about 50 kids standing behind him, Gov. Rick Scott stood Friday before a cottage on the grounds of Hope Children's Home and talked about how much he loves children.
The governor's visit to the home for abused and neglected children in Tampa was part of a series of campaign stops dubbed the "Caring for Florida Families Tour."
Scott touted his accomplishments on behalf of the state's children, noting the adoption of more than 10,000 children into permanent homes in the past three years, legislation that allows children to stay in the foster system until they're 21, and the hiring of more than 200 additional child protection investigators in the Department of Children and Families.
"Being governor, one of the greatest experiences is being around children," Scott said. "We've got to make sure that this is the state that wherever you come from, whatever family, whatever ZIP code, you have the chance to live the American dream."
But there's more to do, he said, adding that he wants to create an ombudsman's office to help foster parents, among other goals. "We're going to make sure every child in our state has same opportunity we had."
In noting his administration's efforts, Scott spoke of his own mother, whom he said almost put him up for adoption due to financial hardships.
Appearing with Scott were Mike and Chris Higgins, directors of Hope Children's Home, and state Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, who spoke of children having an advocate in Tallahassee with Scott as governor.
Between delivering prepared remarks, Scott, who donned a blue U.S. Navy cap, toured the children's cottage and visited with some of the residents. On a playground out front, kids of all ages posed for selfies with the governor.