A New Child Welfare Lead Agency is Selected to Negotiate with DCF to Serve Orange and Osceola Counties.
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Department of Children and Families today announced its intent to negotiate exclusively with Community Based Care of Seminole to become the lead agency for child welfare services in Orange and Osceola Counties – the area currently served by Family Services of Metro Orlando.
Although DCF sought proposals for Orange and Osceola Counties only, Community Based Care of Seminole
proposed a tri-county system of child welfare services that included Seminole County. Family Services of Metro Orlando was prohibited by law from presenting an “equal opportunity” tri-county proposal.
“DCF’s decision today was not an indictment of our performance, which has been consistently strong, or of the value we have brought to our community,” said Grant Lacerte, chair of Family Services’ Board of Directors. “Family Services of Metro Orlando is a nationally accredited, successful and proven lead agency. We owe it to our community to bring our concerns forward.”
Family Services of Metro Orlando has completed record numbers of foster care adoptions in each year of its
existence and invests millions of dollars annually in child abuse prevention programs. It is the first accredited and successful lead agency for child welfare services in Florida to be replaced for reasons other than performance concerns. DCF has noted no performance deficits and has issued no corrective action requirements.
“While we are obviously disappointed, our hearts are really with the children who must undergo yet another transition in their lives which are already too filled with instability,” said Greg Kurth, CEO of Family Services of Metro Orlando. “The challenge for the next provider will be to move their ideas and proposals from paper to reality in this region with the least harmful disruption possible.”
Only West Virginia has a higher number of child abuse allegations per capita than Florida, and most of Florida’s allegations of child abuse originate in Orange and Osceola Counties, the region served by Family Services of Metro Orlando. It is one of the worst-funded in the nation, per capita, for child welfare services.
The announcement by DCF did not provide a rationale for the abrupt shift in direction.