Monday, January 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Good pick to lead embattled DCF

Gov. Rick Scott made a good choice Monday in appointing Mike Carroll to take over the state's embattled child welfare agency. An agency veteran and straight shooter, Carroll has the institutional history, contacts and people skills to steer the huge bureaucracy in a better direction. The governor should give him the flexibility he needs to be candid about the challenges and realistic about the reforms that are needed, and state lawmakers need to give the Department of Children and Families the extra resources it needs.

Scott announced Monday in Jacksonville that Carroll would take over from interim secretary Esther Jacobo, who has been in charge since her predecessor, David Wilkins, resigned abruptly in July. That should end the uncertainty that comes from the revolving carousel of top-level leadership, at least until the November election. A 24-year agency veteran, Carroll has deep experience across the vast range of social services that the agency provides. As director of DCF for the Suncoast region, which includes the Tampa Bay area and Southwest Florida, he is widely admired by both public and private providers for his attention to detail, urgency and candor. Those are essential traits to foster in a large operation that is failing too many children.

Carroll will need to work quickly to address the systemic failures involved in the deaths of children who had been known to the department. In a series of recent reports, the Miami Herald has documented the deaths of at least 477 children who died after their families had prior contact with DCF. While Scott called for $40 million more for child welfare investigators, the Herald series revealed that the safety net is undermined by fundamental problems — large and poorly managed case loads, shortfalls in mental health and substance abuse programs, poor coordination between providers and inadequate support services for parents and caregivers.

The governor should follow through this last week of legislative session by supporting a broad reform that includes substantial new money for child safety programs. Carroll can put his managerial skills to work by improving child protection plans to better triage the most at-risk families and to plug the gaps between providers that are exposed in many preventable tragedies. Carroll's experience playing a lead role in the privatization of community-based services can help in two ways. He has the ability to create models for collaborations across the state and the experience to know what works and what doesn't. He also understands that child safety is ultimately a public responsibility, and that the buck stops with the state.

Carroll should maintain the open-door approach that has won him support among child welfare advocates in the Tampa Bay area. Regardless of how much money the Legislature commits to child protection this year, the task of improving the system will be a long-haul effort for multiple agencies, public and private. Carroll's appointment puts a committed and thoughtful leader in charge, and it signals a serious interest in addressing the complexity of the issues facing troubled families.

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Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Updated: 7 hours ago

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18