E-Update Fall 2014 E-Update Fall 2014


Heart Gallery Newsletter -The Face of foster Care-

www.ChildNet.us                                                                                                      Fall 2014  


Message from Emilio

Each and every day at ChildNet, I get to witness the incredible passion and dedication of those who have answered the call to make a difference for children in care. Ceasar Bryd, a Child Advocate Assistant, showed his devotion when comforting a child at SafePlace, ChildNet's intake and placement center.

An 8 year old girl who had just been removed from her home was having an emotional breakdown. Ceasar reached out and held her calmly in his arms while she poured out her anger and frustration for the next 30 minutes. The child attempted to run away but Ceasar guided her to a quiet office and allowed her to express herself. As she banged her fists and feet against the wall, Ceasar kept talking to her.

Ceasar asked a staff member for nail polish and soon after the girl came out of the office with a smile on her face and her little hands held up to avoid messing-up her freshly painted nails. Ceasar talked to the girl about counting to 20 when she gets upset and he told her how beautiful she looked when she smiled.

As the child welfare system in Florida continues to face financial challenges and ongoing scrutiny, the love and commitment that staff members, foster and adoptive parents, and community providers give to these children each and every day must be recognized and applauded. On behalf of the 4,500 children in care in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, thank you for making a difference!

Emilio Benitez, President & CEO, ChildNet, Inc.


National Adoption Day

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and ChildNet will celebrate on November 21 and 22, when 16 families and 24 children in Palm Beach County and 24 families and 30 children in Broward County, respectively, will create forever families. Amy and Ken adopted two beautiful girls during last year's National Adoption Day. The couple tried unsuccessfully to have children of their own and almost gave up the desire to have a large family. They went shopping at Boynton Beach Mall one day, and saw the Heart Gallery of Palm Beach County's display of children available for adoption. Their eyes rested on the sibling group, Stephy and Kayla, and they knew immediately that these girls were meant to be a part of their family.

A year later and both girls are flourishing. Stephy, the oldest at 7 years old, excels in school and her chosen sport of badminton. "Life is so great now," says Stephy, "I have to look up bigger words in the dictionary to describe it." Kayla, now 6 years old, has had many firsts – first Halloween dress-up, first birthday party and first Disney vacation. "Kayla and I were snuggling a few weeks ago when I felt something wet on my arms," shared Amy. "I looked down and Kayla was crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she just realized that she had not snuggled her whole life until she met me and Ken." "We always say ‘love wins' because in our family, it did," added Ken.

For more information about adopting, call the hotline numbers in Broward at 954.414.6001 or in Palm Beach at 561.352.2501 or click HERE to visit ChildNet's website. 


Help Bring Holiday Cheer to Children in Foster Care 

The holiday season is a magical and joyful time for children and families. But for the 2,800 children in Broward County who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment and neglect, generous companies, churches, schools, affinity groups and individuals have stepped in to provide these children with the hope that their wishes can come true.

"This is the one time of year when the entire community get together to bring holiday cheer to children without a forever family," says Monica King, ChildNet's Executive Director. "More than 50 organizations have been providing holiday gifts to children in care every year. Some groups provide 10 gifts, while others provide as many as 300 children with presents. We have some amazing organizations, such as State Farm Insurance, ReMax Preferred, Panza Maurer and Maynard PA, Spirit Airlines, St. Gregory's Catholic Church, St. Bonaventure Catholic Church, Sagemont School, Eagle Point Elementary School, Silvertrail Middle School and Construction Association of South Florida, to name a few, that have been donating gifts for children every year for the last five to well over 10 years." Gifts have included bicycles, MP3 players, sporting goods, tablets, gift cards, dolls, musical instruments, toy cars and planes and much, much more. "No donation is too small," continues Monica. "Yet these gifts let the children know that they matter."

"We are in need of holiday gifts specifically for infants and teens," adds Suzanne Baker, who has managed the Holiday Drive program for more than 20 years.

To learn how you can help put smiles on the faces of children in the foster care this holiday season, contact Suzanne by phone at 954.873.1832 or e-mail at sbaker@childnet.us or click HERE to view the Holiday Wish List. 


Circle of Supporters Member Spotlight:  Jonathan Pollard  

"I look back on my life and I am humbled and thankful," shares Jonathan Pollard. "I feel that I owe a great debt. I have to pay it forward." Jonathan chose to become a Circle of Supporters member when he learned about the needs of children in foster care. Jonathan, a Fort Lauderdale trial lawyer and commercial litigator, earned his college degree from Cornell University and his law degree from Georgetown University. He worked as a teacher at an inner city high school in Southwest Baltimore and as an attorney at Boies, Schiller & Flexner before recently starting his own practice. From a small town in Pennsylvania, Jonathan has always known the importance of giving back to his community. "It's just about giving kids a fair shot," says Jonathan.

ChildNet's Circle of Supporters is an annual giving society whose donations allow children in foster care to have happy childhood memories. Members enjoy quarterly networking receptions, exclusive events, and the satisfaction of knowing that 100 percent of their donation goes to children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. Thanks to the generosity of members like Jonathan, ChildNet was able to say "yes" to 175 children last year when they asked to go to summer camp, take dance lessons or play on the football team. But with the number of children in foster care swelling to well over 4,500 in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, the need continues to grow.

To learn more about becoming a Circle of Supporters member, contact ChildNet's Director of Community Relations by phone at 954.414.6000 ext. 8036 or by e-mail at ewynter@childnet.us or click HERE to visit ChildNet's website.


It Can Be Done Campaign

ChildNet, FLITE Center and Children's Services Council of Broward County helped to launch the Florida Department of Children and Families' (DCF) It Can Be Done statewide campaign at a kick-off ceremony in Broward County on September 23. The event celebrated the successes of young people currently in or formerly in foster care and are pursuing their educational, professional and life goals. The gathering was hosted by and featured more than seven of these young people.

The aim of the It Can Be Done campaign is to engage local businesses, organizations and communities to rally around foster youth to support and empower them to succeed. "With the odds stacked against them, more often than not Florida's foster youth defy the odds and achieve their goals," DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll said. "They can now show their peers that ‘it can be done' and encourage children coming into foster care that they can be successful with the support of their communities."

 "We are so fortunate to have a caring community of funders and providers who have joined forces to create a comprehensive system of care for these youth," says Theresa Kennedy, ChildNet's Assistant Vice President of Adoption & Youth Services. "Like the youth here today, we have learned that by working together, ‘it can be done.'"

Youth like Eugenia and Taevon, who both held up the signs and shared their stories at the celebration. Eugenia recently completed her nursing degree and is currently employed as a registered nurse at Broward Health. Taevon is a full-time student studying graphic design at Broward College, the president of the Broward Chapter of Florida Youth Shine and a committee chair for Florida Children First.

Click HERE to view stories of other successful foster care alumni and learn more about the It Can Be Done campaign.  


ChildNet Releases its 2013-2014 Annual Report

ChildNet announced the release of its 2014 Annual Report: ChildNet Cares for Kids. Click HERE to download your copy.    


Event Calendar

November 21        National Adoption Day – West Palm Beach
November 22        National Adoption Day – Fort Lauderdale


Fall into the Net

Join ChildNet on the net and help cast the safety net for children in foster care. Visit, like and follow ChildNet on the web, Facebook and Twitter to comment on the latest news, events, photos and more!   




ChildNet Broward County                                      
313 North State Road 7
Plantation, FL 33317      

Phone: 954-414-6000 | Fax: 954-414-6019   

ChildNet Palm Beach County           
4100 Okeechobee Blvd.
West Palm
Beach, FL 33409  
Phone: 561-352-2500  I  Fax: 561-352-2480                

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