TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a move that could help add stability to an agency that has faced repeated controversies, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday named Mike Carroll as secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Carroll, who has worked for the agency for more than two decades, has served as interim secretary since spring. In a prepared statement, Scott said Carroll provided "strong leadership" while in the interim role.
"He brings a common sense approach to the services the agency provides, and he has a passion for serving Florida's most vulnerable children,'' Scott said.
As Scott prepares to start a second term next month, he faces decisions about filling a series of key jobs in his administration. The secretaries of the Department of Corrections, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation recently announced they were leaving their posts, and the Department of Juvenile Justice also has an interim leader.
Carroll is the third head of the Department of Children and Families under Scott, who took office in January 2011. David Wilkins served as secretary until 2013 and was replaced on a temporary basis by Esther Jacobo.
All three have grappled with heavy scrutiny stemming largely from children's deaths. Lawmakers this spring passed a wide-ranging bill aimed at reforming the department and improving child safety. After taking over as interim secretary, Carroll had to deal with an incident in which a Gilchrist County man shot an adult daughter and six grandchildren.
At least some children's advocates urged Scott to appoint Carroll as the permanent secretary. Supporters included Rep. Gayle Harrell, a Stuart Republican who served the past two years as chairwoman of the House Healthy Families Subcommittee and was named Monday as chairwoman of House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee.
"It's important to have some continuity as we're really moving forward into reforming the whole system," Harrell told The News Service of Florida recently. "It's a delicate time, and we need experience."
Carroll's previous positions with the department included managing the agency's SunCoast region, which stretches from Pasco to Collier counties. In a prepared statement Monday, he said it was an honor to be named the agency's secretary.
"I am committed to our agency's mission that every Florida child can live in a healthy and safe home,'' Carroll said. "We will continue to find ways to accomplish this goal and serve Florida families better each and every day."