E-Update Spring 2014 E-Update Spring 2014


Heart Gallery Newsletter -The Face of foster Care-

www.ChildNet.us                                                                                                      Spring 2014  


Message from Emilio

Governor Rick Scott recommended $31 million in additional funding for the Department of Children & Families to hire more child protective investigators. Although we fully support the Governor's request, simply funding more investigative officers will likely result in added child removals. Case managers oversee children's safety and stability until permanency is achieved. Without support for additional case managers, added child removals will further burden the already over-extended case management services. We agree investments are needed in child welfare and encourage legislators to finance system-wide solutions.

Already, the number of children entering the child welfare system has increased in Palm Beach County by 72 percent and in Broward County by 15 percent over the last year. These percentages represent an additional 600 children. Coupled with youth now opting-in to extend their time in foster care until age 22 and Florida's transition to a safety-decision making methodology approach, further increases in child removals will result in a system that demands even more case managers.

As a community, we cannot stand idly by when the state has a surplus budget. During this legislative session, we need the community to stand up for our most vulnerable children and demand adequate funding for child welfare case management services. Together we can make the child welfare system stronger and ensure that children in our community are safe and thriving.

Emilio Benitez, President & CEO, ChildNet, Inc.


SafePlace Palm Beach County

ChildNet is looking forward to opening SafePlace in Palm Beach County. SafePlace is an intake and placement facility that provides a child-friendly, trauma-informed environment for children removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment and neglect. Children will get a chance to rest, eat and play while they are assessed for an appropriate placement in a foster home, group home or with a relative.

On March 8th, fifteen community volunteers dedicated their Saturday to painting murals and decorating the reception area and visitation room, and landscaping the entrance way to SafePlace. The volunteers left an indelible mark of joy and wonder for all who enter the facility.

"The development of SafePlace in Palm Beach has truly been a community effort," shares Larry Rein, ChildNet Executive Director. "We are thankful for the great partnership we have with 4KIDS of South Florida, who will operate the emergency respite program, and for incredible supporters like The Salah Foundation, BB&T, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Jarden Consumer Solutions."


Extended Foster Care Legislation

Florida is now three months into the Senator Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act's (Detert Act) Extended Foster Care program, and for ChildNet, housing is the number one challenge. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, youth 18 and over were given the choice to remain in foster care until age 21 (22 if they have a documented disability) so that their goals pertaining to education, employment, self-sufficiency or housing can be achieved. Extended foster care will give young people the option to remain with foster parents, live in a group home or within a supervised living arrangement, such as a college dormitory, transitional independent living housing or rented apartment, as well as provide a support network to assist these young people with transition to adulthood.

"We believe that this legislation will improve the outcomes for many youth who were not ready to leave the foster care system at age 18. However, the legislation did not provide funding to house these youth and to provide for their case management and support services," noted Theresa Kennedy, ChildNet Assistant Vice President of Adoption & Youth Services. The Transitional Independent Living System of Care Committees in Broward and Palm Beach Counties are working with community partners and housing providers to find solutions for these young adults.

The Detert Act also included a new program for former foster youth who have obtained their high school diploma or GED and are interested in continuing their education. This program is the Post-Secondary Education Support Services (PESS) program. Young adults who have opted-out of extended foster care and are not participating in PESS but are in need services can access After Care support and funding.

For more information about Extended Foster Care, please contact Theresa Kennedy by phone at 954-234- 4571 or by e-mail at tkennedy@childnet.us.

 Teen Adoption 

"I'm in the 9th grade. I'm smart, funny, and I have a great personality. My favorite subject is math and I enjoy playing sports, but I really like technology and want to study automotive technology when I grow up," says D'mari. "I wouldn't mind having a role model or a big brother, maybe an older couple, but one who likes sports and cars. Most importantly, I want a family who will help me realize my full potential."

Most families are looking to adopt young children so adopting teenagers often get overlooked. Sadly, the older D'mari gets the less likely he will ever find his forever family. Prospective adoptive parents are afraid that teens will be difficult. And like any child who has been abandoned or abused by the people they were supposed to be able to trust, teens in foster care may face challenges above and beyond normal adolescent angst. Challenges in trusting people, challenges in becoming emotionally attached, and challenges in believing that you will do what you say you are going to do. But with time, patience, and unconditional love, all of this can be overcome and the rewards for both the teen and the adoptive parent are unfathomable.

Adoptive parent, Robert Lamarche, knows these rewards. "When we adopted our son at age 13, we were told that he probably wouldn't graduate from high school. Even though he was diagnosed with a laundry list of issues, we saw a boy with potential who was masked by so much pain. Last May, he graduated from high school and was no longer an ESE student. He works full–time now and is planning to enter college next semester. It hasn't always been easy but we couldn't be more proud of what he overcame and the young man he is becoming."

You can help teens find their way to a second chance at a forever family. Forward this story to your friends and family; post it on Facebook; tell everyone you know that teenagers in foster care are waiting to be adopted.

Click HERE to see the children available for adoption. For more information about adopting, call 954-414-6001 in Broward County or 561-352-2501 in Palm Beach County.


Foster Care and Adoption Brochures

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and May is Foster Care Appreciation Month.  Help spread the word that there is a need for foster and adoptive homes.  Click HERE to download the foster care recruitment brochure and HERE to download the adoption brochure.


Events Calendar

April 10th        Care for Kids Luncheon
May 3rd          Foster Parent Appreciation Awards & Luncheon
June 1st          Field Day for Foster Care

Visit www.childnet.us to learn more about our events or click on the flyers below to register.



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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