For thousands of Florida kids, this waiver has been the saving grace that’s kept their families safe, strong and together.

Ten thousand of Florida’s most vulnerable children are days away from their biggest crisis yet — and they have no idea.

On October 1, these kids — and their families — will be tossed into upheaval, and will likely end up entangled in the child welfare system.

This crisis threatening the future for Florida’s children is the expiration of a federal funding waiver that has allowed Florida to invest in intensive services proven to keep kids safe at home — and out of foster care.

For years, it’s allowed families struggling with great challenges — untreated mental health issues, domestic violence and substance abuse, for instance — to receive services in their own homes, preventing these challenges from escalating and interfering with child safety.

For thousands of kids, this waiver has been the saving grace that’s kept their families safe, strong and together.

In the simplest terms, Florida’s federal waiver for child welfare is a flexible funding arrangement our state has had with the federal government for more than a decade. This waiver has allowed Florida to spend federal foster care funds on services to help keep vulnerable children safe at home with their families whenever possible. With Florida’s ability to spend federal dollars on effective services to keep children safe at home, we’ve seen outcomes for kids greatly improve.

When the waiver expires — in just days — this flexibility and, likely, the outcomes that come along with it, stops.

Florida will be forced backward, unable to use as much federal funding for the very services that, for years, have successfully prevented thousands of children from entering foster care.

Bottom line: Without any action, $120 million in federal funding is at risk, and the fate of Florida kids will be up in the air.

We will all pay a price. The kids will suffer the most. Outcomes immediately drop for children when they are removed from their families unnecessarily. Their education will suffer. Their mental health will suffer, and their future will suffer.

We as taxpayers will also pay. We’ll pay a hefty price to care for children once they’re in state custody and for years after, well into adulthood.

This is not the life or the future our children deserve.

Florida’s children need your voice — and this cannot wait. Please join me in urging our congressional leaders to protect Florida’s children during this crisis. Visit for ways you can help.

The future for thousands of Florida children is in jeopardy.

Originally posted by: Palm Beach Post