With the passing of a new child abuse bill, $47 million will be used in the safety of children residing in Florida. Children will be placed in foster care and taken away from abusive and neglectful home environments. They will remain in foster care until parents can prove they are able to care for their children properly.

This legislation comes in the wake of an investigation completed by the Miami Herald, which found that over a period of six years, there were over 477 children whose deaths at the hands of their caretakers could have been prevented with better child welfare practices.

What was Florida doing before that didn’t prevent these deaths? Relying on verbal agreements in relation to child abuse. Police officers, instead of removing children from unsafe environments, would have the parents agree to stay away from an abusive spouse, attend parenting classes, and even to quit drugs. The child would then stay, based on these verbal agreements, because Florida had put policies into place that prioritized keeping children with families and reducing the load of children in the foster care system.

The new legislation ensures that the safety of children is the Department’s highest priority. They hope to dramatically lower all child abuse cases and eventually eliminate.