From the Executive Director                                               3.31.15
Prevention is a key to positive outcomes...

Any worker in social services will tell you: prevention is key. The ability to anticipate problems and come up with a plan for swift and skillful action is invaluable in protecting at-risk children and youth. Part of Florida Foster Care Review's mission is to prevent additional harm to children and youth who have already endured too much.


But prevention is a slow road. I'm sure our colleagues in case management would agree that many times we work hard just to be able to say, "nothing happened today". As we wrap up March, which is National Social Work Month, we send thanks to all who have worked diligently to help children and families and save lives.


Creating awareness is a main component in any successful prevention plan. With that in mind, FFCR has joined a statewide coalition in supporting pending legislation to require that the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline be posted statewide. We hope you will reach out to your legislators and ask them to support SB 534 and HB 369Events like this year's Maxine's Closet also help raise awareness, as does having great leadership, like new FFCR President Daniele Lomoriello, and committed volunteers like Professor Robert Rosen. Understanding the needs of the increasing numbers of children and youth we serve also brings us success stories like David's. Read on to learn more, raise awareness and support change.


Candice Maze

Executive Director, Florida Foster Care Review

NewsandNumbersIn the News

DavidsStorySuccess Story: David's Bittersweet Discovery

The FFCR Review Specialist who participated in this CRP hearing shared this first-hand account.

David will turn 18 in two months. He walked into our review room with that disconnected "here we go again" look that most of our teenagers have when facing our panel or any hearing. Given that he would soon be 18, the panel had a lot of questions, which David answered openly and honestly.


"What are your plans after 18?"

His response: "I don't have a lot of answers to your questions but one thing I can say is I don't want to be in foster care anymore. I am not going into EFC [Extended Foster Care - now available to young adults ages 18 to 21 who meet certain qualifications]. I want to get my GED and live on my own. I have a job. I've raised myself and will continue to do so."

I took a deep breath and asked him, aside from not wanting to be in foster care, what other reasons he could give for not opting into EFC. Read More ⇒

HumanTraffickingHotlineLocal Push to Post Anti-Trafficking Hotline Statewide

In 2014, Florida had one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the country - out of 5,167 reported cases (for a crime that is very under reported), 364 occurred in Florida. That puts Florida among the top three states for incidences of human trafficking. Sadly, children and youth in foster care and young adults who have aged out are at high risk.
Locally, FFCR joined the Stop Sex Trafficking Miami Campaign, but recently we've been active at the statewide level too. FFCR is joining other organizations to support two bills making their way through the Florida Legislature. SB 534 and HB 369 would require the posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Hotline - 1-888-373-7888 or text to 233733 (BeFree) - in state transit areas, including rest stops, turnpike plazas, welcome centers, etc., so that people being forced into labor or sexual exploitation can confidentially seek help and community members can anonymously report suspicious activities. HB 369 has passed all its committees and is ready to be scheduled for the House floor. SB 534 has passed two committees with still one to go.


Florida is a hub for the commercial sale of children for sex. This hotline can help those who are being forced into this modern-day slavery, but only if people know it exists. Look up your state legislators and call them now to ask them to support these important bills.

DanielePresidentDaniele Lomoriello Becomes New FFCR Board President

FFCR Immediate Past President Jean Bell toasts new President Daniele Lomoriello
At the January 2015 meeting of the FFCR board of directors, Daniele Lomoriello took office as president for the 2015-2017 term. Jean Bell, who acted as Board President from 2010 until this January, handed over the gavel with a champagne toast as Executive Director Candice Maze and other board members looked on.

"Florida Foster Care Review has been so lucky to benefit from Jean's experience and dedication over the past several years. Under her watch, we developed a new strategic plan to better help abused and neglected children and began turning the plan into reality, starting with the Permanency Roundtable Program," said Candice Maze. "We also developed a new database, improved internal management and quality assurance procedures and significantly increased funding. The results of Jean's leadership shine through every day."


In her professional life, Jean serves as Senior Vice President and Senior Credit Products Manager of Global Commercial Banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Bank of America, N.A / Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.). Jean will continue as an FFCR director.

Newly elected President Daniele brings his experience as Vice President for Goldman Properties, where he oversees the Hospitality Division and Human Resources. His dedication to helping children and youth in foster care is evidenced by his actions: he's a former guardian ad litem and FFCR volunteer. Daniele feels that as president, he'll have the opportunity to contribute further to the advancement of the organization's mission.

"We wholeheartedly welcome Daniele to this post," said Executive Director Maze. "I am confident that he will build on Jean's strong leadership and the foundation she laid. I can't wait to see what FFCR is able to accomplish as we take it to the next level during his tenure."

Clockwise from top left:
FFCR staff Annaleah Krenn & Kendra Copeland; Judge Spencer Eig & Rita Baez, Esq.; FFCR Executive Director Candice Maze with FFCR Board VP MaryAnn Lukacs, Esq. & the Hon. Rosa Figarola; Carolyn "Kioni" Nesbitt from Concerned African Women, Inc. with Marta Vega from the Thurston Group (also Maxine's Closet Host Committee member); and Kelly Penton-Chacon, Maxine's Closet Host Committee member with Sarah Manzano.
We did it! It was a great honor to share an evening with Maxine Thurston-Fischer's friends, family and colleagues plus many from the community who gathered at McCormick Place Downtown Miami on March 12th to celebrate her life and support a cause that was dear to her.


When Maxine, an FFCR founder and former board member, passed away in February of last year, she donated her unique jewelry and clothing to FFCR, so that the items could be used to help children and youth in foster care. From that donation we curated beautiful collections for sale at Maxine's Closet, raising $10,000 to support FFCR's expanding programs. We know Maxine would be proud!


The evening included cocktails provided by Just Quality Wines and Biscayne Bay Brewing and lite bites courtesy of Catering By Lovables and Joanna's Marketplace. In keeping with FFCR's mission and with Maxine's tradition of giving back, guests were encouraged to bring new or gently used handbags and shoes for Dress for Success.

Thank you all for making the night possible! Every effort you made - whether serving on the host committee, attending, donating or sponsoring this event - was a testament to Maxine's life and the love we share for her. Thank you for the memories and for your support of FFCR's work. 

Photos from Maxine's Closet

RobertRosenVolunteer Spotlight: Professor Robert E. Rosen

University of Miami Law Professor Robert Rosen has been a Citizen Review Panel volunteer for almost 25 years. Professor Rosen took part in one of our first trainings in 1990, just a year after the organization was formed. In 2014, FFCR recognized him as one of 25 "Stars of Florida Foster Care Review", for his countless hours dedicated to protecting children in foster care, and for his invaluable contributions to the Citizen Review Panel. 

Professor Rosen sees the CRP as an essential support to an overworked system. Most supervisors in case management agencies have a heavy caseload and cannot get into the minutiae of each case to ensure that no details are left uncovered. That's where the CRP comes in. Since caseworkers participate in the CRP process, FFCR volunteers can dialogue with them directly and follow up on items that may have otherwise gone unnoticed - all to ensure that the child is receiving the highest level of care.

As Professor Rosen says, "We make a difference in the lives of the kids. It's always amazing what a different set of eyes can do. The panel can look at the child and suggest things that are obvious to us, but may not be to others involved in the case."

The CRP also benefits from the varied areas of expertise and professional qualifications that FFCR's volunteers bring to the table. In addition to his J.D. from Harvard Law School and years teaching at the University of Miami School of Law, Professor Rosen holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley.

To all those thinking of joining the CRP as a volunteer, Professor Rosen says... Do it! He feels like he positively impacts the lives of children when he volunteers each month on the CRP, and has greatly enjoyed working with people from different professional backgrounds over the years. Thanks for your ongoing service, Professor Rosen!

About Florida Foster Care Review 

Established in 1989 by a United Way committee, Florida Foster Care Review promotes the safety, well-being and long-term success of abused and neglected children in our community. Through special recruitment and training, volunteers review cases of youth in foster care to ensure they are safe and receiving needed services, intensively promoting positive outcomes. Together with child welfare professionals, Florida Foster Care Review also works to ensure that children and youth leaving the foster care system have someone they can call family. Through all its programs, Florida Foster Care Review tracks and analyzes outcomes in order to advocate for system changes that improve children's lives.