Coalition partners with child welfare organizations to implement Plan of Safe Care

The Healthy Start Coalition has partnered with local child welfare organizations to implement the Plan of Safe Care locally for substance-exposed newborns. The Coalition has worked as part of the Early Childhood Court Steering Committee to develop local protocols and joined with the Florida Department of Children & Families and Family Support Services of North Florida to train social services and child welfare professionals.

More than 300 staff from a multitude of organizations were trained on November 22, 2019. The training included a presentation on the plan of safe care by Healthy Start Coalition of Flagler/Volusia Executive Director Dixie Morgese, and a comprehensive overview of the local protocol and plan template.

Plans of safe care are required by the federal Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA). Section 503 of the act adds provisions to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requiring states that receive CAPTA grants to address infant exposed to drugs prenatally. States are required to address the health and substance use disorder treatment needs of the infant and family or caregiver, and specify a system for monitoring whether and in what manner local entities are providing services in accordance with state requirements.

Locally, a Plan of Safe Care will be completed not only at discharge after a baby’s delivery, but also implemented prenatally by agencies and programs like Healthy Start that will work with mothers before they deliver.

The team that worked on the Plan of Safe Care protocol and training was recently recognized for their work with a Child Welfare Excellence Award at the 2019 Child Protection Summit. The team consists of Sarah Smith, Family Support Services; Linda Compton, Operations Manager DCF; Lindsey Rickards, Program Administrator, DCF; Stacey Beaton, CPI Supervisor, Substance Exposed Newborn & Infant Unit, DCF; Karen Tozzi, Director, Maternal and Child Health, Department of Health; Kimber Strawbridge, General Magistrate, Duval County; and Faye Johnson, CEO Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition.