Governor Ron DeSantis bolsters child and family well-being in Florida through Freedom First Budget


Nicole Pasia


Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis approved over $400 million in funding for Florida’s child and family well-being, enhancing services to strengthen families and increase supports for foster parents and relative caregivers.

“Investments in our children are investments in our future,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Children should have every opportunity to reach their full potential, and I am proud to approve a budget that will further Florida as a state where families can thrive together, and kids can grow up safe and happy.”

A major budget win for the child welfare system includes $150.4 million for Community-Based Care lead agencies throughout the state to decrease caseload ratios for caseworkers and increase prevention services. There is also $44 million to provide increases in monthly payments for relative and nonrelative caregivers to achieve parity with rates currently paid to foster parents, as well as a supplemental child-care subsidy of $200 per month for relative and nonrelative caregivers and licensed foster parents to care for young children in the child welfare system.

Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Shevaun Harris said, “The Governor and the Legislature continue to make families a priority in Florida. This funding will allow us to continue building out the vision to better integrate programs and holistically serve families. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue so many purposeful programs and bold initiatives through the 2022-2023 budget.”

“The investments in our Community-Based Care model will be a tremendous help in sustaining and strengthening our child welfare workforce and the overall system of care, leading to better outcomes for children, families, and communities,” said Kurt Kelly, President and CEO of Florida Coalition for Children.

Additional budget items that will be implemented by DCF include:

  • $126 million to expand behavioral health services throughout the state to support children, family, and emergency needs through a team approach.
  • $70 million to support fatherhood initiatives to develop mentorship programs and address the comprehensive needs of fathers in Florida.
  • $19.8 million investment in the SunCoast region of the state to implement a preservation model to reduce the number of children in foster care and stabilize front line staff.
  • $15 million for adoption subsidy payments and incentive benefits to increase the number of families adopting from the child welfare system.
  • $14 million to provide foster parents an annual cost of living increase, support awareness of prevention and intervention services, and expand the Early Childhood Court program.

This press release was provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families.