The Florida Senate is committed to improving Florida’s Child Welfare System. An adopted child from a family that took in foster children throughout his childhood, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson has made comprehensive reform of Florida’s Child Welfare System a top priority of his two year term as Senate President.
“We know that the sooner a child has a permanent living situation, the better off they will be. And the reason we need to act now is because government is a terrible parent. All children need a loving home. Let us rally together to find permanent ones where they can thrive.” – Senate President Wilton Simpson, 3/3/21 Opening Day of the 2021 Legislative Session.
“Dollars wisely spent on the front end are dollars saved – and more importantly – lives are saved through the opportunities created. There is so much potential in each and every child, but some are weighed down with issues that keep them from reaching it. Government makes a terrible parent, but we can make it easier for loving adults to help children in need.” – Senate President Wilton Simpson, 10/15/19 – Designation Ceremony for the 2020-2022 Legislative Term.
“These are modest investments for the state, but could mean all the difference for a family member or foster parent facing the prospect of taking in a vulnerable child. I’ll be the first to say government can never replace the role of a safe, loving family. But we can, and we will continue to make foster children a priority by identifying and supporting caring families for them.” - Senate President Wilton Simpson, 1/11/22 Opening Day of the 2022 Legislative Session.
Legislative Progress 2022
- Legislation To Improve Benefits For Foster Families, Relative Caregivers Passes First Senate Committee - 1/18/21
- Senate Passes Increased Benefits for Foster Families, Caregivers Who Are Relatives - 2/23/22
Legislative Progress 2021
- Senator Brodeur Files Legislation to Increase Protections and Improve Consistency for Children in Out-of-Home Care - 1/12/21
- Senator Diaz Files Legislation to Expand Eligibility, Maximize Parental Choice in K-12 Scholarship Programs - 1/21/21
- Senate Advances Bill to Ensure College Tuition Exemptions for Students in DCF Care - 1/26/21
- Legislation to Expand Eligibility, Maximize Parental Choice in K-12 Scholarship Programs Passes First Senate Committee - 2/3/21
- Child Welfare Legislation to Increase Protections, Consistency for Children in Out-of-Home Care Passes First Committee - 2/16/21
- Legislation to Expand Eligibility, Maximize Parental Choice in K-12 Scholarship Programs Ready for Senate Floor - 3/4/21
- Legislation to Increase Protections, Consistency for Children in Out-of-Home Care Ready for Senate Floor - 3/11/21
- Senate Unanimously Passes Key Child Welfare Legislation - 3/18/21
- Senate Passes Legislation to Ensure College Tuition Exemptions for Students in DCF Care - 3/25/21
- Senate Passes Legislation to Expand School Choice Options for Florida Families - 5/11/21
- Historic Expansion of School Choice Options for Florida Families Signed Into Law - 1/12/21
- Key Child Welfare Legislation Signed Into Law - 6/30/21
2022 Legislative Session
Improving Benefits for Foster Families and Relative Caregivers
Legislation to Address the Fatherhood Crisis
House Bill 7065, a priority of Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor), addresses the fatherhood crisis and at-risk youth in Florida. The bill establishes June as Responsible Fatherhood Month and encourages father involvement with grants to organizations that establish programs to provide evidence-based parenting education and assist non-custodial fathers to become self-sufficient and meet child support obligations. The legislation also increase supports for foster children—especially those who age out of care.
2021 Legislative Session
Improving Protections, Consistency for Children in Out-of-Home Care
Increasing Reporting, Transparency, Training
SB 96 requires animal control officers who suspect child abuse to make a report to the Department of Children and Families, and conversely for child abuse investigators to report suspected animal abuse to animal control. To improve child safety, the bill requires various steps, including school educational programs, to help children become knowledgeable about their rights to be free from abuse. The bill also requires the DCF to develop and implement a family-finding program and a kinship navigator program to strengthen family connections, resources and placement options. To improve transparency, the bill expands access to confidential reports and records in cases of child abuse or neglect to include employees, authorized agents, and contract providers of the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The bill also implements the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School grand jury recommendation to appoint a commission to specifically examine the mental health services in the state, creating a 19-member Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse to examine the current methods of providing mental health and substance abuse services in Florida. Governor DeSantis signed SB 96 into law on June 29, 2021.
Clarifying College Tuition Exemptions for Students in DCF Care
Historic Expansion of School Choice Options for Florida Families