Volunteer Spotlight: Lynne Kafka

Lynne Kafka is a lawyer with a history of public service. She has worked for Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., the Florida State Attorney's Office and as a Guardian ad Litem volunteer. Lynne reached out to FFCR in 2014 after being referred by her friend and FFCR supporter the Honorable Bertila Soto, Chief Judge of Florida's 11th Judicial Circuit. When Lynne called us to inquire about volunteering, she learned the training started the next day. Lynne jumped right in, and we're so glad she did!
Lynne is a valuable part of the Citizen Review Panel (CRP) and recently started participating in our Permanency Roundtable (PRT) Program. 

Lynne had her volunteer "lightbulb moment" when she went through the PRT Program's Permanency Values training a few months ago. The training made her realize how important it is for every child, no matter how old, to have a stable adult connection. She understands that many in the child welfare arena believe that older youth in foster care won't get adopted and should just be prepared for Extended Foster Care; she and other volunteers are working to change that perception.

Being an FFCR volunteer means making serious decisions that directly affect children's lives. According to Lynne, collaborating with other volunteers strengthens the panel decisions:

"During the CRP hearings, I see very clearly that the volunteers' different professions and life experiences bring a lot to the discussions," said Lynne. "There are volunteers with backgrounds in education, psychology, and business. Many are lawyers like myself. Each person thinks and approaches problems differently, which really enriches the discussions. Having input from these different people strengthens the decisions we make as a panel. It's interesting to see how it plays out - I'll voice my concern and someone else will talk about it from a different perspective and new solutions come to light. You feel comfortable making the recommendations because they've been vetted from so many different perspectives."

For Lynne, being an FFCR volunteer is rewarding, but has its challenges. She has to prepare herself emotionally for the hearings because it's hard to hear about the difficulties the children face while knowing they don't have a stable adult in their lives. She enjoys when the children are able to come to the panel hearings because seeing them in person gives her a greater connection to those she is helping.

with Florida Foster Care Review!

FFCR Participates in First Leadership Retreat of FIU's Fostering Panther Pride

Over the weekend of August 14-16, FFCR's CRP Program Manager Marissa Joy Leichter participated in the first leadership retreat of Fostering Panther Pride, a program of Florida International University (FIU) designed to address the needs of students coming from foster care and/or homeless backgrounds. Fostering Panther Pride includes coaching, mentoring, academic assistance, financial scholarships and research to identify best practices that can be replicated for youth in other communities. Sixteen students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, participated in the inaugural retreat's activities, which included nighttime kayaking, FIU's Team Ropes Adventure Challenge (TRAC), self-care techniques, intimate reflection and open discussion. Marissa represented FFCR on the retreat's leadership panel. The students were able to learn much about themselves and each other by gently pushing beyond their comfort zones. By the end of the retreat, bonds had formed. FFCR gives a shout out to FIU and all the programs that support Fostering Panther Pride, including the Miami Coalition for the Homeless, The Miami Foundation, Educate Tomorrow, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Voices for Children, Chad Moss Construction and HANDY (Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth), Inc. and FIU's Office of the Provost and Vice Provost Steven V. Moll. We were proud to be a part.

Foster Youth Weekly, FFCR's Online Newspaper
Like being in the know? FFCR curates Foster Youth Weeklyan online paper focusing on resources useful to and supportive of youth in foster care and young adults recently in care. Check it out for employment information and more.

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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.