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Florida first lady is recruiting vets to fill positions at the Department of Children and Families

Florida’s first lady has launched a recruiting effort urging veterans and former law enforcement officers to fill a void at Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Casey DeSantis picked Eglin Air Force Base in begging this week to announce the initiative. It’s called Continuing the Mission.

“We said, well, why don’t we ask our great veterans to sign up to continue their service to help children in need — to become a child protection investigator,” DeSantis said. “That makes perfect sense.”

DeSantis offers a way to fill many DCF vacancies. Job postings for child protection investigators can be found all over the state. These investigators, known as CPIs, are rare and DeSantis thinks veterans would make a great choice.

“They’ve spent their whole lives serving the country, doing something bigger than themselves. Then they come back, and some of them feel like they’ve lost their purpose in life,” said DeSantis. “So what we wanted to do was give our veterans the opportunity to continue their service and continue to serve our great children in this state.”

“This population of great Florida citizens are ideal candidates to help at-risk children and families,” said retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Hammer Hartsell, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, partner initiative. Recruitment efforts include military wives and law enforcement.

“First responders, military, law enforcement, we’re called into danger — to do something, to act,” Hartsell said. “That’s why we’re going to have veterans, military spouses and law enforcement who want to do this.”

Erica Mitchell was a police officer in the city of Niceville. She says her work with the police led her to become a CPI at the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.

“I feel like I developed a skill set that included great attention to detail in everything I did, from observing, collecting data, documenting and problem solving,” Mitchell said. , adding that she wants to help families improve their lives beyond her efforts to deal with criminals.

“In child protection, we develop a deeper relationship with families. We’re here before law enforcement, during law enforcement, after law enforcement – a long time,” Mitchell said. “We go into the houses of the families; we talk with everyone in the family; we get a sense of what’s going on in family dynamics.

It is hard work that is plagued with turnover. ICCs investigate abuse, neglect and abandonment. They assess threats to a child’s well-being and arrange emergency placement for a child who cannot remain safely at home.

When it comes to salaries, a starting CPI brings in just under $40,000 a year. A senior CPI earns about $2,000 more. A CPI supervisor earns $49,200. This is one of the reasons why retired law enforcement officers and veterans are recruited.

“Being able to leverage the veteran community that we have here in Florida is a no-brainer,” said Army Special Forces veteran Cliff Richardson. He says many veterans seek out opportunities like this to continue their service.

“As a veteran, that was one of the things that was so important to me when I made the transition, when I was trying to figure out, what am I going to do next? How can I to have an impact ? ”

Richardson now works at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. He says the initiative will help both the children and the military.

“When a child and a family are exploited, there is an opportunity cost associated with that. You potentially lose the next general, the next first lady, the next secretary. You don’t get them back,” Richardson said. “By giving veterans the opportunity to use their skills and reducing the barrier they have to overcome to participate in a program like this, you create a win-win situation.

DeSantis wants to make it easy for them. “Talking to a lot of our veterans, they want to serve, but sometimes they can’t do it full time. So we were able to work so they could work their schedules,” DeSantis said. “So if they want to do this part-time, we’ll take any time.”

In addition to becoming a CPI or DCF case manager, they can serve as mentors for new hires.

The Carry On the Mission Recruiting Tour will hold events in North and Central Florida in July and August. Click here for more information.

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