Florida private social welfare agencies charged with caring for abused, neglected, and disabled children are under attack after Florida’s Chief Inspector General for the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) issued a preliminary report suggesting that their executives were being compensated well above the limits allowed by state law. Many of the executives had salaries well into six figures. There is a concern that federal and state appropriations are padding their executives pockets instead of having the funds reach the children they are supposed to serve.
A few agencies such as Community Based Care of Brevard in Melbourne, Citrus Health Network in Miami, the Safe Coalition in Sarasota, Big Bend Community Based Care in Tallahassee, Eckerd Youth Alternatives in Clearwater, Family Support Services of North Florida in Yulee, and Lakeview Center in Pensacola dispute the report giving various explanations for the preliminary findings that suggest “excessive” compensation of executives. The chief inspector general asserted that this report was only in the preliminary stages, however once completed, it will be up to lawmakers to decide what constitutes “excessive” compensation. The agencies deem the state probe into executive salaries “a witch hunt.” However, the chief inspector general clarified that it is not a “witch hunt” but rather a fact-finding mission aimed at “bringing transparency” to determine how federal and state funds are being used by private child welfare agencies.
The chief inspector general acknowledged that the preliminary findings raised questions and underscored the complicated way in which the agencies operate, promising the organizations ample time to respond to the state’s findings. Regardless of the outcome, Florida has taken a step in the right direction to ensure these agencies are being held accountable.