From the Executive Director

Time flies when you're intensely focused on improving children's lives! At Florida Foster Care Review we've been focused these past 12 months on promoting the safety, stability and success of children in the foster care system. We served more children this year than in any other since 2010 and have broadened our programming to confront the often-overwhelming task of securing lasting, supportive families for children and youth in foster care. I am proud that our new Permanency Roundtable Program is changing lives, one child at a time, by aggressively and strategically pursuing lifelong, loving families for youth otherwise destined to age out alone. I'm also thankful to the program's generous funders.

While this year has marked remarkable achievement for our organization, it will also be remembered as a year of tremendous change and challenge for the foster care system in Miami. A recent report by Florida Tax Watch reinforces what we intuit from our daily work: the child welfare workforce is experiencing extremely high turnover rates, and the demand for effective services, especially prevention services, has increased. Furthermore, the number of children in foster care statewide - currently an incredible 22,000 - is expected to continue growing. Far too many children spend years in foster care waiting to be matched with an adoptive family, with far too few resources available to make that match.

It takes true grit - both for child welfare professionals and the children they serve - to push upward against these odds. In our daily work at FFCR, we see not only the system failures, but also what happens when we all work together towards a common goal. This year, we've played a role in a 14-year-old connecting with an adoptive family, a mother reunifying with her child after working to break free of her own childhood trauma, and distant relatives stepping up to care for a severely disabled family member.

The passing in 2015 of the Honorable William E. Gladstone - one of FFCR's founders, a giant in our field and my beloved mentor - strengthened our determination to continue his legacy of removing barriers and creating opportunities for positive change so that all children can grow up in nurturing, stable families.

As many of us gather to spend the holidays with our own loved ones, we resolve to work even harder to make such realities possible for children in our community. I thank each of you for being part of this journey, and on behalf of all of us at FFCR, I wish you and yours abundant health and happiness in 2016.

Warm wishes,
Candice L. Maze, Executive Director

Peacock Foundation, Inc. Awards $40,000 for Permanency Roundtable Program

Peacock Foundation, Inc. supports the PRT Program for another year.
For the second year in a row, Peacock Foundation, Inc. has awarded a generous grant of $40,000 to FFCR to support implementation of the Permanency Roundtable (PRT) Program. News of the investment comes in the wake of PRT Program grants already received from The Miami Foundation and the Joseph H. & Florence A. Roblee Foundation, both of which are also continuing their support for a second year.

Based on a national model developed by Casey Family Programs, the PRT Program seeks to set young people up with the supportive family each of us needs to succeed in life. FFCR works with OurKids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc. and its network of full case management agencies, the DCF Miami legal services division and other community organizations to ensure participation of key stakeholders. Please check out the infographic below for an overview of our first year's outcomes.

FFCR sincerely thanks Peacock Foundation, Inc., The Miami Foundation and the Roblee Foundation for making the PRT Program possible.
Mason's Story: The Power of Youth-Centered Roundtables

To deepen the impact of the Permanency Roundtable Program, FFCR is currently piloting new Youth-Centered Roundtables (YCRTs) that give older youth input and buy-in into outcomes. Part of the YCRT process involves an additional consultation in which youth map their strengths, existing adult connections and more. The results are astounding.

Sixteen-year-old Mason* initially appeared shy and guarded. His voice was almost a whisper and he made minimal eye contact. He had been in foster care for years already, bouncing around between homes. He was now in a group home, but expressed clearly his wish to be adopted and to have the chance to grow up in a family.

We started with introductions and then everyone identified Mason's strengths. An FFCR staff member, noting his personal style, wrote "creative" and "bold" on the board. Mason's face lit up and he slowly began to talk about his hobbies, which include art. This initial icebreaker helped with what came next.

The FFCR staff member, acting on a comment Mason made about not having art supplies, sent a mass text to some friends requesting donations. One friend, who is also an adoptive parent of teenagers, asked for more information about Mason. Meanwhile, the PRT team - with Mason's direction - was able to identify a previous foster family who had been a source of support for Mason and with whom he wished to maintain contact. The case manager committed to obtaining more information. Mason also expressed frustration with his current school. An FFCR volunteer agreed to explore appropriate magnet schools for Mason and sent the results to the case manager within a few days.

Within a few short hours, after more than 10 years in the foster care system, the YCRT team and Mason were able to identify potential permanent connections, reinforce Mason's strengths and talents and begin to resolve his school situation. Between now and January, all roundtable participants will work with a renewed sense of urgency and hope to accomplish Mason's desire to have a forever family. Without this process, Mason's courage and the commitment of the roundtable members, this would not be possible.

*Names and likenesses have been changed to protect privacy.
MiamiHeraldFFCR's work highlighted in Miami Herald editorial

FFCR was recently featured along with two other organizations in a Miami Herald editorial, "Paying tribute, paying it forward", encouraging readers to take part in improving the lives of our community's neediest children and youth. With your help we will promote the safety and well-being for children, youth and young adults in foster care for many years to come!

In the community

In the news

Report: What young people need to thrive

Justice Summit V ready to tackle pressing Florida criminal justice issues

Opinion: Let a judge decide

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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. To receive it in your inbox, be sure to subscribe!


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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.