The latest news about Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association:
Deputy DCF Secretary David Fairbanks issued a letter to all foster parents regarding recent events, including the request for foster parent records by the Sarasota Herald Tribune. The text of the letter is below:
September 11, 2018
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is committed to ensuring the safety of all children, especially those involved in the child welfare system. The department’s most valued partners are the wonderful people who make the choice to bring a child into their homes and their hearts, with an understanding of the high levels of trust and responsibility that are being placed upon them.
It is with deep sorrow that I must inform you that a foster parent was injured in a horrific attack last month by a biological parent of children in her care. As our most valued partners in child welfare, we too understand the level of trust that foster parents across the state place with the department when it relates to protecting their personal information and I can assure you that no information about this foster parent was released by DCF.
As many of you are aware, a public records request was recently submitted to the DCF Office of Communications by the Sarasota Herald Tribune for a list of names for all licensed foster parents and corresponding counties. Our office worked closely with DCF’s legal counsel and the newspaper to explain the type of information being requested and how this could affect the states’ licensed foster parents.
Because we are unable to ensure that the release of this information will not jeopardize the safety of foster parents or the children in their care, DCF will not be releasing any information regarding foster parents in Florida. Also, we will seek legislative action during the upcoming legislative session to put further protections in place for Florida’s foster parents. This legislative action will balance the need for transparency to ensure accountability within Florida’s foster system while still allowing the department to protect the safety of children, which is always our number one priority.
As you are aware, foster parent’s identifying information in the wrong hands can lead to unsafe situations for foster parents and the children in their care. The State of Florida remains committed to protecting foster parents and will continue our fight to keep their information confidential.
David L. Fairbanks
Department of Children and Families
FloridaFAPA Executive Director Trudy Petkovich said, “DCF has informed us that they expect some fall out from not honoring the records request, but we fully support their effort to stand up for our caregivers and the children in their homes.”
FloridaFAPA is joining DCF and others in urging the legislature to strengthen the language protecting our families and records pertaining to those homes. Our goal is to have these records gain protection (public record exemption) under Chapter 119 of Florida Statutes in the next legislative session.
In light of recent events (public records request, foster parent attacked) FloridaFAPA’s board has released this statement:
FloridaFAPA believes that Foster parents should be afforded high levels of protection, as they are crucial to the safety of our most vulnerable children. We are working with the Governor and Legislature to ensure protections increase in the near future.
Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday named Rebecca Kapusta to serve as interim secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Kapusta has been at the department for 12 years, most recently working as assistant secretary for operations, according to a news release from Scott’s office. She previously worked in the legal department, including as the department’s general counsel.
Kapusta will replace Secretary Mike Carroll, who announced recently he is leaving the agency effective Sept. 6. She earns $125,000 annually, according to a state website. Among other things, the Department of Children and Families administers mental-health, homeless and foster-care programs.
The department also determines Medicaid eligibility and administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Report by News Service of Florida
FloridaFAPA wants to make its members aware that there has been a public records request for all foster parent names and their county of residence. The request was made by a reputable newspaper under Florida’s broad public records laws (Florida Statute Chapter 119).
We are working with the Department of Children and Families, the Office of the Governor and Florida Coalition for Children to ensure that the scope of the disclosure by the state is limited to only what is required under current law.
- Most foster parent records — including address information — is protected from disclosure by DCF under FS Ch. 409.175
- At this time it appears that the requested county information will not be disclosed
- Foster parent names are not protected records and will likely have to be disclosed
- DCF will be contacting all foster parents soon with additional information
From Alan F. Abramowitz, Executive Director Statewide GAL office: Just wanted to share a new video created from the “Friends of Abused Children, Inc.” in Seminole County to highlight how important it is for youth to trust their foster parent and GAL. It highlights the need for foster parents and GAL’s. It discussed from youth’s view the need for trust and highlights the parenting for children in foster care. It always seems to have a bigger impact when its youth that explain how important GAL’s and foster parents are for youth. Special thanks to the Johnson Family and the Yancey Family and Friends of Abused Children, Inc. Our amazing narrator and volunteer GAL in the video is Michelle Brightman.
Posted by Florida FAPA on Friday, July 13, 2018
From Alan F. Abramowitz, Executive Director Statewide GAL office:
Just wanted to share a new video created from the “Friends of Abused Children, Inc.” in Seminole County to highlight how important it is for youth to trust their foster parent and GAL.
It highlights the need for foster parents and GAL’s. It discussed from youth’s view the need for trust and highlights the parenting for children in foster care.
It always seems to have a bigger impact when its youth that explain how important GAL’s and foster parents are for youth.
Special thanks to the Johnson Family (Editor’s NoteChris Johnson is FloridaFAPA’s Executive Vice President) and the Yancey Family and Friends of Abused Children, Inc. Our amazing narrator and volunteer GAL in the video is Michelle Brightman.
The Florida State Foster/Adoptive parent Association is now “FloridaFAPA.” That name has represented us online and on social media for years, and even served as shorthand got those that didn’t want to stumble through our formal name or spew a string of letters.
Earlier this year we embarked on a mission to streamline our organization and ensure we are spending our resources responsibly, and on things that support our members and mission.
At that point, it became clear: We’re going to be doing things a little different — to better represent our members. So it was time to break with the past, and unveil a new identity and a new brand.
The five principles of FloridaFAPA’s new strategic planning. There are workgroups for each, if you are interested in working with any of these groups, let us know!
Establish the direction of the organization, implement clear expectations for leaders and provide for accountability.
Ensure sufficient financial resources exist to fulfil the missions, goals and sustainability of the organization.
Build a clearinghouse of resources to support the needs of foster and adoptive families statewide.
Influence legislation that impacts our families and ensure that it is implemented appropriately
Develop and maintain strong partnerships within the child welfare community.
If you want to join the conversation, join us on Twitter, to just follow the updates, you can see them here!
See the Memo here DCF Memo on Caregiver Notice of Court Hearings (& Info Sheet JPG)
DCF’s Assistant Secretary for Child Welfare released the memo above on May 30. Below are excerpts from the accompanying email:
Florida completed its Child and Family Service Review (CFSR) in September 2016 and the Children’s Bureau issued the final report on December 28, 2016. One of the findings in the report was that Florida did not have a systematic method to notify caregivers of court hearings and their right to be heard in court. Florida has two years to implement the key activities and achieve the sustained level of performance as negotiated with the Children’s Bureau in Florida’s Program Improvement Plan (PIP). As part of the PIP, a statewide workgroup was created to address a systematic method to ensure that caregivers were notified of court hearings and their right to be heard at those hearings. The workgroup developed a one-page document that can be posted in offices and distributed to caregivers during ongoing home-visits conducted by case managers or child protective investigators prior to case transfer. The workgroup also recommended that the case manager or child protective investigator prior to case transfer provide written notice of the next court hearing to caregivers which could be a copy of the home visit form, or on the back of the business card of the child welfare professional providing the notice.
ACTION NEEDED: In order to effect practice improvement, it is critical for the regions and Community-based Care lead agencies (CBCs) to ensure that each caregiver is notified of court hearings and their right to be heard at those hearings.
The President and Treasurer positions are up for election this fall. The nomination form and position requirements/descriptions can be downloaded here (PDF).
Check the elections page on this site for updates!
(Note: Only paid members can vote in FSFAPA elections. To become a member or renew, please click here.)
We have added a “Dealing with Trauma” section to our resources page (replicated below) with links to PDFs provided via Sunshine Health. This page will be updated as additional resources are made available.
Message to FSFAPA From Sunshine Health VP Neiko Shea
In response to the horrific tragedy that occurred … at Stoneman Douglas High School, Sunshine Health would like to offer our support for your foster and adoptive parents who may have been impacted by this traumatic event.
Dealing with Trauma
- Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief (for Caregivers)
- Helping Youth After Community Violence (Tips for Educators) – useful for caregivers, too!
- Helping Children Cope with Death or Tragedy
(These links all permanently added to the FloridaFAPA.org Resource Page)
Family-Match, an adoption matching technology, presented by the Selfless Love Foundation, is launching a statewide initiative with CBC’s and providers to reduce the time to adoption placement and improve the quality of matches. With a compatibility assessment designed by the former lead researcher from eHarmony, approved families will get an unprecedented opportunity to be identified by child welfare workers across the state.
Prospective adoptive families can begin on boarding themselves (at no cost) starting on Feb 15th, case workers will be trained and begin registering children in May and June, and the matching functionality will be fully activated by Summer 2018.
For more information visit: selflesslovefoundation.org/family-match
WHEREAS, foster families provide a unique opportunity to impact children’s lives by providing care for children until they can be reunified with their families, or find a forever family; and
WHEREAS, children in foster care need and deserve a loving, supportive, nurturing, and quality
foster family; and
WHEREAS, approximately 5,272 foster families are currently licensed throughout the State of Florida; and
WHEREAS, the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection, Florida Department of Children and Families, community-based care lead agencies, Florida Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, state and local agencies, and communities join together to raise awareness of the need for quality foster families in Florida; and
WHEREAS, approximately 7,184 children in Florida live with foster families; and
WHEREAS, Florida Statutes designates the second week of February as Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week, to recognize the enduring and invaluable contributions foster parents provide to children in their care; and
WHEREAS, families and children across the great State of Florida will celebrate the impact that foster families have on children and families; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rick Scott, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend greetings and best wishes to all observing February 12-18, 2018, as Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week and encourage all Floridians to consider opening their hearts and homes to children in this state who Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week proclamation are in need of a quality foster family.
The Fostering Success Program is a one year internship that provides paid, part time employment in a Florida state government agency making $10 per hour.
The internship is open to current or former foster youth ages 18 to 26. The program strives to support the intern in increasing their professional and lifeskills for future employment opportunities.
Openings now in the current internship year at four different agencies, and scheduling for training and internships starting July, 2018.
To learn more or to apply, email Abigail Phelps at Abigail.Phelps@MyFLFamilies.com
The latest memo can be found at our resource page or by clicking this link.
The adjustment is a result of a 2013 law that requires an annual adjustment of the foster care board rate equal to the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index.