www.ChildNet.us Summer 2014
Message from Emilio
Summertime is here! Time to rest, relax, and enjoy your family and friends. ChildNet is fortunate to have great partnerships and community support that gives children in care a chance to make memories this summer at camps across the state.
Here at ChildNet, we are gearing up for fiscal year 2014-2015. Over the past year, we have seen a significant rise in the number of children coming into care, with increases as high as 72% in Palm Beach County and 15% in Broward County. There are now an additional 600 children in the region in need of support, services, and shelter, stretching the organization's resources and foster home capacity. In order to remain fiscally sound and ensure that children in care remain safe and stable, ChildNet has had to make some proactive budget cuts.
The good news is that the efforts undertaken by ChildNet and our foster home management providers to recruit new foster homes has been successful. This fiscal year, ChildNet Broward ranked #1 and Palm Beach #2 in the state for foster home recruitment. Recruiting new foster parents is an ongoing process with a growing need in our community.
Please consider giving a child a loving place to call home this summer by becoming a foster or adoptive parent. For more information about fostering or adopting, call our hotlines at 954-414-6001 in Broward and 561-352-2501 in Palm Beach.
Emilio Benitez, President & CEO, ChildNet, Inc.
Congratulations Class of 2014!
School graduation is exciting for all youth, but for youth in foster care it is an incredible accomplishment. This June, ChildNet and its partners celebrated the academic success of youth who graduated from middle school, high school, college, or obtained their GED. Luis Perez-Sales and Cara Bigger were among this year's youth in foster care receiving their diploma.
Luis graduated from Jupiter High School and received the Palm Beach County School District's 2014 Character Counts Award for Perseverance. He will attend Palm Beach State College in the fall and transfer to Florida Atlantic University in two years to complete his degree to become an officer in the military. "I want other foster youth to know they can persevere and succeed," said Luis.
In Palm Beach County, ChildNet partnered with Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and Friends of Abused Children to host a graduation reception for 13 youth in care who graduated from high school or GED program and are enrolled to attend college. Each youth received a certificate, laptop and check to celebrate their acheivement.
Cara graduated high school in the top 10 percent of her class. She went straight to college and completed her Bachelor of Science in Social Work at Florida Atlantic University in December 2013. Cara shared, "I want kids in foster care to know that they can succeed in school and later in life. They just have to work hard to get good grades and go on to college."
The Transitional Independent Living "Build on Your Dreams" event, held at Broward College's South Campus in June, celebrated the matriculation of over 100 students in foster care. This annual ceremony coordinated by ChildNet, Camelot Community Care, Children's Services Council, FLITE Center, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, HANDY, Memorial Healthcare System, and SOS Children's Villages, was touching and inspirational. Former foster care young adults took the stage to share their stories with the graduating class. They shared similar stories of disappointment, loss, and failure counteracted by the pursuit of academic goals.
Join us in congratulating the class of 2014!
Foster Parents of the Year
The dedication of our everyday heroes was recognized in May at Foster Parent Appreciation events in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Raffles and fanfare at these annual events pale in comparison to the nurturing and love these families provide to children in care day in and day out. Foster Home Management agencies in Palm Beach awarded the following as Foster Parents of the Year: The Sipula Family – 4Kids of South Florida; Scott & Carrie Maulsby – National Youth Advocate Program; Debbie & Tim Maloney and Ronald & Letitia Drummond – KID, Inc.; Brian & Allyson Lazarus – Place of Hope; Martha Huggins – Choices; Carlos & Yvette Rovira and Claudette & Augustus Rattery – Camelot Community Care; and in Broward County, Anne & Mike Davis – Children's Home Society; Melissa & Stephen Kepper – 4KIDS of South Florida; and Norma & Hilton Hendy – Florida Mentor. Hats off to these outstanding families and all those who open their hearts and home to foster children!
One such notable foster parent is Anne Davis who has been fostering since 1991. She became a foster parent because she loves babies, and began fostering when her two biological children were in elementary and middle schools. Anne and her husband have fostered 129 babies. Last year, she received specialized training to foster medical babies, and currently has two of these babies in her home. People often ask Anne what happens when she has to let the babies go after they have become a part of her family and she is attached. "It is difficult and a piece of our heart goes with them," says Anne, "but we know that they are either reunited with their birth parents or extended family or adopted into a loving home." Anne believes there is nothing more rewarding than to see her foster children become part of a forever family. "We know we have loved and nurtured them at a time when they've needed us most," continues Anne. "Like all of us, they just want to be loved and given a chance.
Learn more about becoming a foster parent. Call the Foster Recruitment Hotline in Broward County at 954-414-6001 and in Palm Beach County at 561.352.2501.
Board Member Spotlight:
ChildNet is fortunate to have an outstanding board of directors with diverse backgrounds but a common commitment to children in care. One such outstanding board member is Sarah Marmion. Sarah, the community outreach manager at Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), came onto the board in January 2014 to support ChildNet's expansion into Palm Beach County.
Sarah and her family have been providing resources to help foster and adoptive families for many years. In 2011, Sarah's commitment to this mission deepened with the untimely passing of her 10 year old daughter, Clara. Every year, Clara loved helping her family pick out gifts for children in foster care, so in memory of her daughter, Sarah created Clara's Secret Shepherds Foundation. "Our daughter loved to help people," says Sarah, "and we wanted the foundation to reflect that. The Foundation's vision is to inspire people to make a difference in the lives of abused, abandoned or neglected foster children in South Florida through financial generosity and volunteer commitment."
The Foundation uses its funds to purchase Christmas gifts, eye glasses, basic toiletries, senior high school yearbooks, duffel bags and other items and services needed to help enrich the quality of life for children in foster care. The Foundation raises funds through the annual Clara's Kids family event, which will be held this year from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at Abacoa Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida. Tickets to the event, which will feature an extensive silent auction, a raffle, a variety of children's crafts, dinner and drinks are $20 for adults, $10 for children age 15 and under. Click HERE to purchase tickets to the event.
'Fun' Raising for Children in Foster Care
All children need and deserve happy childhood memories. Experiences like playing sports, school field trips, summer camp, and other extracurricular activities are an important part of childhood. ChildNet hosted fundraising events this past spring so children in care can enjoy dance classes or play in the school band.
In April, ChildNet held its inaugural Care for Kids Luncheon in Palm Beach County at Frenchman's Reserve. Close to 200 guests enjoyed the exclusive event, which featured Liz Quirantes, CBS 12 anchor and ChildNet Board Member as the mistress of ceremonies and Georgina Rodriquez, advocate, student, and former foster care youth as the inspirational keynote speaker.
Luncheon sponsors included: Heart Sponsors: Florida Power & Light Company, Palm Beach Kennel Club, Stiles Corporation; Hope Sponsors: ASD Surfaces, BB&T, Chrysalis Health, Grandma's Place, Perennial Strategy Group, Place of Hope, The Gardens Mall; Happiness Sponsor: Sunshine Health; and Help Sponsors: Cherry Bekaert, Boys Town of South Florida and Kerry Diaz.
In June, ChildNet and 14 nonprofit partners kicked off the 2nd annual Field Day for Foster Care at BB&T Center. Teams got an opportunity to remember what it was like to be a kid again as they competed in games – Rapid Fire Corn Hole, King of the Hill, Basket-Ball, Three-Legged Race and the finale, a Big Wheel Relay Race around the arena floor! First, second and third place winners of the games were Kaplan Life Changers, Jogo Bonita, Baptist Heath, respectively, the Craziest Costumes award went to ChildNet Black Treasures and the Most Team Spirit award went to the Chrysalis Team.
Event sponsors included: Title Sponsor: Boies, Schiller & Flexner; Platinum Sponsor: Marsh & McLennan Agency; Gold Sponsor: BB&T, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital at Memorial; Silver Sponsor: Baptist Health South Florida, Gray Robinson, Greenberg Traurig, Joe Rogers Family; and Bronze Sponsor: Tripp Scott, BlueGreen Vacations.
ChildNet's Back to School Drive
As we prepare for school in the fall, ChildNet depends on the community to ensure there are backpacks, books, pencils and school uniforms to get kids in foster care back to school. Click HERE to support ChildNet's Back to School Drive in Broward County and contact 561.352.2500 ext. 2459 to learn how you can help in Palm Beach County.
ChildNet Broward County ChildNet Palm Beach County
313 North State Road 7, Plantation, FL 33317 4100 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL 33409 Phone: 954-414-6000 | Fax: 954-414-6019 Phone: 561-352-2500 I Fax: 561-352-2480
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