The latest news about Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association:
From our friends at the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program:
We’ve got some great video & radio for National Adoption Month that we’re hoping you’ll post for your followers.
There is a video, “The Power of Adoption,” that is 6:15 long. Here is the link:
And there is an excellent call-in show on adoption on WFSU-FM, followed by a feature story that includes the same voices. Here are the links:
Perspectives: Adoption From All Sides
Adoption Awareness Month: Building Strong Foster and Adoptive Families
Follow this link to set your smile.amazon.com account to support FloridaFAPA … and we’ll get 10 times the regular benefit (5%) until Nov. 2 (back to .5% of each purchase after that time frame.)
The Florida Coalition for Children has set up an Amazon Wishlist to allow people to donate directly to Hurricane Michael victims.
Per Victoria Vangalis Zepp, Florida Coalition for Children’s EVP & Chief Policy and Research Officer, “Purchases will be shipped to FCC and we’ll either move to the warehouse or our teams can pick up from there (for distribution.)”
FloridaFAPA’s election results are in, and Amanda Williams will lead the organization as President starting on Jan. 1, 2019.
Amanda has been a foster parent for the last 7 years in Gainesville. She has served on the FloridaFAPA board as regional vice president, independent living chair and has led the teen programs at our conferences for the last few years. She is also a past president of the Alachua County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association.
A core part of FloridaFAPA’s mission is to support foster and adoptive families in Florida, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael many of our families in the Panhandle are in need.
Donations to FloridaFAPA will be used to support these foster and adoptive families through direct support, assistance in locating/coordinating services and other needs as we become aware of them. We will also use these resources to support our member foster/adoptive parent associations in this region so that they may also better support the foster and adoptive families in their service areas.
Check back to this site and our Facebook Page for updates.
FloridaFAPA (formerly The Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association) is a 501(c)3 volunteer organization established in 1987 to address the needs of foster and adoptive families in Florida.
(Miami, FL – Oct. 3, 2018) – The Board of Trustees for Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc. (Our Kids) announced that Michael C. Williams has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the agency, effective immediately; erasing “interim” from his title after just over a month.
Mr. Williams had been serving as Our Kids’ Interim President and CEO following the tragic and untimely passing of former CEO George H. Sheldon. Mr. Sheldon, who joined Our Kids in June 2017, handpicked Mr. Williams to fill the then-vacant role of Chief Operating Officer back in October 2017.
“We have had the opportunity to get to know Michael first-hand for a year now; and it is clear to see why George was so set on hiring Michael last year. Michael is undoubtedly committed to protecting and advocating for all children and families – a quality that is invaluable to everyone at our agency,” said Kate Callahan, Chair of the Board of Trustees for Our Kids. “His knowledge of the child welfare system along with his professional experience make him the ideal person to lead our agency as we mourn the loss of George Sheldon, and beyond.”
Prior to joining Our Kids, Mr. Williams was serving as the Deputy Commissioner of Operations for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families where he was known as an innovator. A progressive leader, Mr. Williams has led system change efforts to meet children’s needs while simultaneously obtaining full community participation. With over 20 years of child welfare experience, Mr. Williams not only understands the intricacies of child welfare and behavioral health systems, he has a proven track record of creating culturally competent service systems that meet the needs of children and their families.
“I am very grateful and excited for the opportunity to lead this agency as we approach the final stages of procuring a five-year lead agency contract with the Department; and look forward to building on the successes we have already seen from the implementation of our 2018-2021 Strategic Plan and furthering our goal of ensuring that all children grow up in safe, loving, nurturing, and permanent families,” concluded Mr. Williams.
About Our Kids of Miami-Dade and Monroe, Inc.:
Incorporated in 2002, Our Kids is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation created in response to the need for local leadership, oversight and coordination of the foster care system. As the non-profit lead agency for community based care in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, Our Kids oversees and directs a coordinated system of care that provides crucial services to abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the community. Our Kids’ mission is to create safe havens for these children and their families through adoption, foster/kindship care, and other related services.
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.