The arrival of thousands of Haitian children in Florida after the recent earthquake in that country has created a huge challenge for the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). The DCF has been plagued recently with a series of scandals that call into question its ability to handle Florida’s own children, let alone a large influx of injured and orphaned children from another country. George Sheldon, the secretary of the DCF, has acknowledged that the challenge is a big one said that he is ready to meet it head on.
Within a few short weeks after the earthquake in Haiti, the DCF had found shelter for 720 orphans, overseen medical care for 628 evacuees, and distributed $26 million in assistance along with 3,500 teddy bears. Sheldon said the teddy bears may have been the best medicine for most of the frightened children coming off the planes from Haiti.
Longtime critics of the department are hopeful that Sheldon will improve the situation for Florida children as well, who have been left behind by the system in the past. Roy Miller of the Florida Children’s Campaign has applauded Sheldon for addressing the department’s problems rather than trying to cover them up. Read more about what Florida has done for Haitian children at Florida DCF chief ready for a challenge.