The Florida Department of Children and Families launched its new campaign, “Who’s Really Watching Your Child?,” Tuesday during a press conference at the state capitol.
The campaign, targeted toward parents and guardians of children up to 4, is aiming to raise parental awareness on the dangers of allowing non-relatives to take care of children.
“We’ve studied the data and know that when young children are placed in the hands of non-relative caregivers, with little or no child care experience and a lack of parental bond with the child, the results can be dangerous,” said Esther Jacobo, DCF interim secretary.
“It’s crucial for parents to designate a responsible adult or licensed child care facility to care for these precious young children, which is why we’ve teamed with organizations and experts throughout the state to launch this campaign.”
Stationed on the fourth floor lobby directly in the middle of both the house and the senate, Jacobo, along with Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Port St. Lucie; Shan Goff, executive director of the Office of Early Learning; and John Armstrong, surgeon general and Florida secretary of health, all took to the podium to express their support of the new campaign.
“I am proud to stand with so many statewide partners who are dedicated to protecting Florida children and offering help parents need to ensure their children are in safe, capable hands when they cannot physically be with them,” Harrell said.
According to The Casey Family Programs report, it’s not only unsafe to leave a child with a non-relative caregiver, but it can even lead to death.
More than 25 percent of child protective investigations last year involved a non-relative caregiver as the alleged perpetrator. This represents more than 12,000 incidents of verified abuse or neglect at the hands of a non-relative caregiver in 2013.
In partnership with more than 30 statewide agencies and organizations, the campaign builds on successful community programs. The goal is to raise public awareness and arm parents with the questions to ask before choosing a caregiver for their children.
To further promote the campaign, DCF also launched two public service announcements to accompany the central message.
“Florida’s children deserve safe supervision from all caregivers,” Armstrong said. “The ‘Who’s Really Watching Your Child?’ campaign is a rallying cry for assuring the well-being of young children when a parent or guardian is away from home.”