May 31, 2005


Is outsourcing the answer to states' foster-care woes?: Florida has now contracted all its child-welfare services to the private sector - a closely watched bid to help children. (Jacqui Goddard, 6/01/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

[F]lorida hopes to become a poster child of a different sort: a model for how privatization child-welfare services work better. Although states have increasingly farmed out tasks to private contractors, Florida's effort is controversial because it relates to one of the most sensitive responsibilities of government: when and how to intervene on behalf of children in troubled circumstances. And it will be closely watched, because other states also face pressure to improve such programs.

The results so far appear to be mixed, but Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is counting on the effort over time to help turn around services tarnished by scandal.

"This is a model that other states should look at very carefully and begin to test out," says David Fairbanks, deputy director of the program, called Community-Based Care. CBC is a network of localized, nonprofit agencies to which Florida's Department of Children and Families has gradually turned to provide foster-care, adoption, and child protection services.

With that outsourcing now complete, Florida is the first state to have 100 percent of its child-welfare services in private hands. Officials believe that the 48,972 children it serves are now protected by a more responsive, more accountable system and that other states should follow.

"We have worked hard to improve our image, and CBC has been a big part of that, because now it's hometown agencies that are doing this work," Mr. Fairbanks says. "But we are putting a more local face on the job of child protection - and it's working."

More evidence of the continuity Jeb would provide in '08.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2005 6:45 PM

Florida is the first state to have 100 percent of its child-welfare services in private hands.

The private sector could hardly do worse than Florida's public DCF effort, which was one of the worst in the nation.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 31, 2005 11:25 PM

Quite true. They were losing children (murdered by their parents while ostensibly under state supervision) as far back as 1989. Didn't matter who was in charge. And all the exposes by various state newspapers didn't do much, either.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 1, 2005 12:40 AM

Florida's child care woes would be an issue in '08 if Jeb runs for president, nevermind that he scuttled the troubled system. Remember, the Democrats tried to link his brother to the death of James Byrd in Texas, even though the jury in the case sentenced two of the three defendants to death. In the same vein as the NAACP's dragging death ad from 2000, we can expect to see some sort of tattered doll or torn child's clothing ad during the 2008 race, with a voice-over implication that Jeb himself raped and strangled all those children.

Posted by: John at June 1, 2005 1:14 AM

Jeb running for President would cause heads to explode across the nation, and the clean up (and dry cleaning) bills would be astronomical.

Posted by: Mikey at June 1, 2005 9:12 AM