5 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) -- Gov. Rick Scott has signed a sweeping bill aimed at overhauling the child-welfare system after hundreds of child abuse-related deaths in the past five years.

Scott said Monday the bill will help hire 270 child protective investigators to reduce caseloads. The law also establishes a response team to quickly investigate child abuse deaths when the child had previous incidents with the system.

The new law comes on the heels of a scathing series from The Miami Herald, which highlighted the deaths of 477 children involved with the department in the past five years.

A report released last fall reviewing 40 child deaths revealed that welfare authorities overlooked danger signs, such as parental drug abuse or domestic violence. Most children who died were younger than 5.

"We are eager to start implementing this important bill and the resources provided to put needed boots on the ground to protect children," Interim DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said. "Governor Scott has been a strong and vocal supporter for the children of this state and these reforms would not have been realized without his leadership and devotion to Florida's vulnerable children."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read or Share this story: http://on.wtsp.com/1izFPFz