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DCF: No quick fix to child safety issues

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida's Department of Children and Families says there will be no quick fix in ensuring child safety. The fallout from the deaths of a child and teenager in the past week is prompting change in the agency.
 
The reports on both incidents should be ready in about a month.
 
Florida Gov. Rick Scott was troubled by the two tragic incidents.
 
"You just can't imagine these things happening. I have grandchildren," Scott said. "The first thing you think about is the family. My prayers go out to them."
 
The two incidents: one in Columbia County where deputies say a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed by his younger sisters, and the other in St. Petersburg where a father was seen throwing his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge to her death, has called into question the Department of Children and Families oversight of both family situations.
 
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll, who reviews each situation, said preventing future tragedies wouldn't be a quick process. Some changes have already been made and others could be coming.
 
In both cases, there were red flags, including reports of sexual abuse and neglect from Columbia County and possible mental illness in St. Petersburg. Carroll has already changed protocol. The department will need to meet with a parent and victim within four hours of a hotline call of a mental health episode.
 
"I don't want anybody to think that some of the fixes we make in the short term is a magic bullet," Carroll said. "We changed the hotline so that we'll handle a call differently, trigger a different type of response."
 
Carroll vowed that his department would do a better job of identifying mental health and substance abuse.
 
"We have got to do a better job within the system of being able to identify that, being able to engage those folks and understanding the impact that has with child safety," Carroll said.
 
The agency is currently investigating both situations to see if it could have handled things differently.