From the Executive Director                                               5.29.15

Learning and service go hand-in-hand 


At FFCR, we prioritize continual education for our volunteers and staff as a way to provide the best possible service through our programs. Aside from required initial trainings and the experiential learning volunteers and staff gain through Citizen Review Panels and Permanency Roundtables, they also participate in trainings on a variety of topics related to new developments and areas of need. This past month we learned about the experiences of homeless GLBTQ teens and helped organize a community roundtable on sexual healthWe also heard from Robert Latham, Esq. of the Children & Youth Law Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, who gave us a legal update on Extended Foster Care.

An understanding of the issues older youth in foster care face daily is key to providing solutions that set them up for success in adulthood. This approach was affirmed in a recent study showing that individualized care is an important factor in the transition to independent living. That type of care requires all child welfare stakeholders to be attentive to system-level changes and equipped with cultural competencies that allow us to relate to the youth and families with whom we work.

At last week's Volunteer Appreciation & Awards Ceremony, FFCR staff, board members and judges came together to honor the volunteers and community members who have given generously of their time and resources to promote positive outcomes for abused and neglected children and youth. Their work makes a real difference for the children we serve, like Kelly. Even if you weren't at the ceremony this year,
 we send our heartfelt appreciation to all of you who support FFCR's work by advocating for children and youth in foster care.



Candice L. Maze

Executive Director, Florida Foster Care Review

In the News

FFCR's New Online Newspaper


Like being in the know? FFCR recently launched 

Foster Youth Weeklyan online paper focusing on resources useful to and/or supportive of youth in foster care and young adults recently in care. Check it out for employment information and more!


To receive it in your inbox, be sure to 



Be the safety net abused and neglected children and youth need. Donate or volunteer today.

awardsceremony2015 Volunteer Appreciation and Awards Ceremony 


Lisa Pittman, Executive Director Candice Maze, Rachel Spector, Silvia Nino, Dalia Garcia
At FFCR's Volunteer Appreciation and Awards Ceremony on May 21, 2015, judges, community partners and child welfare professionals joined our Board of Directors and staff in honoring those who donate their time and resources to promote the safety and well-being of children and youth in foster care.


The night was dedicated to FFCR's volunteers who, with specialized training and staff guidance, review cases of children and youth in foster care to ensure they are safe and receiving the services they need. Eight volunteers celebrated significant milestones in their service: Judy Webb (20 years), Oscar Resek (15 years), Lisa Pittman (10 years), Danielle Selem (10 years), Beatriz Baldan (5 years), Monica Ferrari (5 years), Cindy Kimbrough (5 years), and Doris Maya (5 years). FFCR also recognized extraordinary community members: long-time child advocate and Marielle Gomez-Kaifer, PhD was honored with the Douglas M. Halsey Award for Community Service, Holland & Knight received the Corporate Partner Award for donating more than $10,000 of pro bono services to FFCR, and Jean Bell was presented with the President�s Award for her outstanding service as the 2013-2015 Board Chair. For more on our outstanding volunteers and awardees, be sure to check out the 2015 Tribute Book


Wynwood Kitchen & Bar generously hosted the event, providing food and drink for some 75 attendees. Maddox Music Group kept the festivities going with live jazz. Ken Tannenbaum provided photography.

successstorySuccess Story: Father and daughter reunited

Kelly*, age 11, and her three siblings were placed in foster care in 2011 after an investigation revealed their mother physically abused them. Upon entering care, Kelly was diagnosed with a developmental delay, ADHD and PTSD. Her parents' parental rights were terminated and in 2013 her siblings were adopted by a maternal relative who was unwilling to care for Kelly.

In January 2015, Kelly's case came before FFCR's Permanency Roundtable (PRT) Program. One step in her permanency action plan included locating relatives, among them the biological father whose parental rights had been terminated for abandonment.

When the PRT team contacted Kelly's father, they learned he was unaware that she was in foster care. Her father also claimed to never have been served with a petition to terminate his parental rights. The PRT team confirmed this, learning that his parental rights were terminated after publication of a notice in the newspaper. When Kelly's father was finally served in person, he appeared in court to request custody.  

In response to the father's request, the PRT team recommended he and his wife undergo psychological evaluation. The evaluation recommended therapeutic visits between Kelly and her father to address his absence from her life. During the follow-up PRT in April 2015, the case manager reported that Kelly and her father had participated in two therapeutic visitation sessions, both of which went well. Their progress will be monitored in Kelly's future PRTs.


* Names and likenesses have been changed to protect privacy.

childrenssourthouseMiami's new Children's Courthouse opens its doors  

On April 24th, FFCR attended the grand opening of the new Miami-Dade County Children's Courthouse, a 14-story, kid-friendly building complete with four oversize murals and a family of bear statues. 

After 26 years at the original Children's Courthouse,
FFCR has moved its Citizen Review Panel hearings into the new space, and several staff members are now working principally at the Children's Courthouse. Over the course of the next 6-12 months, FFCR's entire staff will be moving into our new office suite in the courthouse. We look forward to having both our program and our office operating out of the same location.


EFCExtended Foster Care Training


Extended Foster Care (EFC) went into effect in Florida on January 1, 2014. Youth enrolled in EFC continue to receive supervision, services, and independent living support up until age 21 or 22 for youth with a disability, along with a monthly stipend to cover living expenses.

On May 6, 2015, Robert Latham, Esq. from the Children & Youth Law Clinic of the University of Miami School of Law came to the FFCR office to help volunteers and staff understand the possibilities and limitations of EFC when put into practice. The information he provided will better e
quip our panels to educate older foster youth about the options available to them upon turning 18.


While we are still waiting for administrative rules to be approved, you can learn more about the program by visiting the Department of Children and Families website.


GLBTQFFCR trains up on issues facing GLBTQ youth 

On April 28, 2015, Carla Silva, Executive Director of The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth, provided volunteers and staff with an in-depth understanding of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation, which are oftentimes misconstrued by society. Carla provided examples of how volunteers and staff can avoid assumptions about a youth's identity and experience. She also explained how to use inclusive language.


The training also provided information on why some GLBTQ youth are homeless, and how homeless GLBTQ youth disproportionately suffer from mental health issues, substance abuse and victimization as compared to homeless heterosexual youth. Carla described the services offered at The Alliance such as counseling, advocacy, education and partnering with organizations in our community to increase awareness of victimization of GLBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. She encouraged everyone to become an ally to GLBTQ youth so that we can advocate on their behalf during the Citizen Review Panel hearings and in the community.


Attendees left with a greater sense of responsibility to not only use the appropriate terms when addressing the youth we serve but also to advocate on behalf of this often overlooked population in our day-to-day activities. The training built on past FFCR/Alliance efforts, including an anonymous survey of 200 young people who recently exited foster care, designed to gain a better understanding of youth and young adults' experiences as or with GLBTQ youth during their time in care. The project was funded by The Miami Foundation's GLBT Community Projects grant program.

Community Roundtable on Sexual Health for Youth in Foster Care

FFCR helped organize The Community Roundtable on Sexual Health for Youth in Foster Care, held on April 30, 2015 at the University of Miami Children & Youth Law Clinic. The Roundtable was part of an ongoing effort, catalyzed by FFCR, to bring together stakeholders from throughout the community to address challenges facing youth and young adults in the foster care system.

Carla Silva, Executive Director of
The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth, facilitated the event, which was attended by nearly 30 people. Those present included youth formerly in foster care, case managers, nurses, clinicians, adolescent health specialists, child advocates, lawyers, community providers, and staff from the full case management agencies and OurKids.  

The next roundtable will be held in four to six weeks; roundtables on mental health for youth in foster care and independent living skills are in the works. Past roundtables have included efforts to help youth and young adults currently and formerly in foster care find meaningful employment.

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.