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Archive for the ‘Aging Out’ Category

Before Mother Reportedly Smothers Two Children in Broward, Warning Signs Were There

June 27th, 2016   No Comments   Abuse, Aging Out

The deaths of two young children in Miramar, Florida, allegedly at the hands of their mother, should serve as yet another warning of how children’s protective services need to be more protective of the children. Ariel, a toddler, and St. Leo, 7 months old, were taken from and later returned to their mother by social service authorities in their hometown of Philadelphia.

Then this month, their mother – Sophia Hines – allegedly smothered both children while staying in South Florida. The woman previously had been under care for severe depression, and the children “were receiving in-home services” from a Philadelphia social services agency, according to the Miami Herald, which fought Philadelphia authorities and the Florida Department of Children and Families successfully to review the family’s case file.

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Florida Youth SHINE in Action at the Capitol for Children’s Week

During Children’s Week, over 35 Florida Youth Shine advocates flooded the Capitol steps to speak to dozens of legislators, staff and public officials bringing awareness to the issues affecting the child welfare system and to advocate for children in and transitioning out of the foster care system.

youth shine

In Their Own Words…

“Through Florida Youth Shine I have been able to increase my self-esteem and further my goals in life by developing relationships. In FYS, I have been able to create long lasting relationships and establish a family.”
Chelsea Bramblett, 19, Pensacola Chapter Member

“Being a part of this was an amazing experience. I loved the fact that we are able to make a difference. I really admire what we are doing and it means a lot for me to do something that really makes a difference.”
Christian Aguilar, 18, Miami Chapter Member

“FYS helps change the foster care system by bringing awareness to the people who have no idea of what it means to be ‘in the System.'”
Caprice Blizzard, Pensacola Chamber Mentor

“The things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met will forever be apart of who I am and who I’ve become.”
Jose Logrono, 23, Orlando Chapter Member

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Former Foster Children From Florida Youth Shine Speak Out at Statewide Events

What can you learn from a child or young adult? Listen and you’ll see. Members of Florida Youth Shine, who are current and former foster children, spent their summer speaking to child advocates throughout Florida, and working in the nation’s capital. They shared information about independent living legislation and other issues affecting foster kids.

The “Voice of the Youth” series took the young adults across the state to share their stories.

They spoke at trainings sessions, statewide committee meetings, and to the media that covers child advocacy issues.

In the past weeks, 22 Florida Youth Shine members actively participated in two workshops at The Department of Children and Families Child Dependency Summit in Orlando. There to learn, advocate and learn about leadership building, they also presented at workshops and served on panel discussions.

Among the events in which Florida Youth Shine members participated were:

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Florida Youth Shine: We Came, We Spoke, They Voted – Thank you to Florida’s Legislators

A note from Florida Youth Shine: Since 2010, Florida Youth Shine has been working with on bills that would ensure normalcy while in care and that would extend foster care to 21. As a part of our outreach, you all have come to the Capitol time after time to share your stories during meetings with legislators, for conversations with Senate staff, and to testify countless times before House and Senate committees.

This year, in partnership with the Guardian ad Litem program, your hard work paid off during the 2013 legislative session when “The Quality Parenting Act” and the “Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act” were passed in both the House and Senate. Congratulations to all of our members of Florida Youth SHINE who have shared their story and their voice over the last 3 years. You did it!

A special FYS thank you goes out to Senator Detert for sponsoring both of these wonderful bills in the Senate and to the entire Senate for co-sponsoring SB 1036 on Independent Living. We also send a heartfelt thank you to Representative Albritton for sponsoring The Quality Parenting Act, Representative Perry for sponsoring HB 1315 on Independent Living, and to so many of our Representatives who signed on as co-sponsors to both of these bills.

These substantial changes became law because of you. We came together to identify these challenges, we spoke to our legislators and shared our stories, and they voted in favor of a stronger support system for each of you. Congratulations for being part of Florida’s history!

Read FYS’s entire newsletter here.

Foster Child Attorney: Proposed Federal Changes to Florida Disabled Child Program Welcome

Florida child advocates, attorneys and legal guardians who have seen physical abuse, mistreatment and neglect of the state’s most medically and at-risk disabled children applaud the U.S. Department of Justice proposed overhaul of the state’s programs for these vulnerable populations – even as  leaders from the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Agency for Healthcare Administration defend their practices.

The federal government this week pressured state leaders to improve its care and treatment of those children who suffer from severe medical conditions. The harsh indictment of Florida’s program and history of care for this population came in the form of a 17-page settlement proposal from federal civil rights lawyers, who offered “a comprehensive blueprint for overhauling the state’s system of care for frail youngsters,” wrote the Miami Herald.

In it, the DOJ “demands the state stop slicing in-home nursing services for frail youngsters, stop ignoring the requests of family doctors who treat disabled children and stop sending hundreds of children to geriatric nursing homes — where they often spend their childhoods isolated from families and peers,” the paper wrote.

Meanwhile, leaders from heads of three state agencies, including the Agency for Healthcare Administration and the Florida Department of Children and Families, defended at a Tallahassee news conference the state’s process of housing of hundreds of disabled children in nursing homes.

Read the entire article here.

Florida Foster Kids Who ‘Age Out’ Face a Tough World Ill-Prepared for What’s Next

February 12th, 2012   No Comments   Aging Out

America’s children-turned-adults present a stark dichotomy of “independence.” Many adult children well into their 20s, even their 30s, still are financially dependent on their parents. They’re called the “boomerang generation.” Can you blame the parents for taking them back? The economy remains weak. Jobs are scarce. And no matter how well educated they are, these kids still have few options.

Now, imagine being a foster child – with scant education, few business or money-management skills, and forced to “age out” and face the world alone with no “parents” in the traditional sense to fall back on. While boomerangers often stay home into their late 20s or even 30s, foster kids are required by Florida law to become “independent” at 23.

That could change.

According to the Miami Herald, “the budget bill passed in the Florida House of Representatives lowers the age when the state’s foster children, even those still in school, are cut loose. Support for former foster care students would end at 21, instead of 23.

“The Road to Independence Act, passed back in a more enlightened 2002, recognized that children aging out of Florida’s often overwhelmed, sometimes negligent foster care system were hardly ready to face the world alone.”

Read the entire story here.

Florida Department of Children and Families Investigates Fort Myers Group Home

The Florida Department of Health inspected a Florida Department of Children and Families-regulated boys group home in Fort Myers after complaints if filth, cockroaches, mold and unsanitary conditions were reported. The home is for foster youth and boys with no other options.

Lee County inspectors gave the Source of Light and Home Development Center-run house a failing review, which led the state to temporarily stop placing new foster children there, the News-Press reported. One former resident, who recently aged out, said he was “grossed out.”

Soon after the DCF action, agency officials lifted the hold after inspectors gave the home an OK and the number of violations dropped to about a dozen, the paper reported. Read the entire story here.

Florida DCF Secretary Bid to Help Foster Children, Curb Dropouts, Track Abuse Could Avoid Personal Injury

As poverty climbs, Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins says he’s working to aid foster kids, decrease high school dropouts, and better fund independent living. By the assessment of any advocate, children’s rights attorney or guardian ad litem attorney, “optimistic” isn’t typically a word associated with the DCF. “Given the state agency’s past, high-profile failings in living up to its mission to provide services to the abused, poor and downtrodden, the two rarely make it in the same sentence,” writes the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“But David Wilkins, the man who now heads DCF, is optimistic, particularly about the funding prospects DCF faces in next year’s budget. He doesn’t anticipate another round of major cuts, nor should he, given the workload the department faces, and its bureaucratic challenges in addressing them.”

Read the entire story here.

‘Age Out’ Woes: Advocates, Attorneys Fear Florida Foster Children Face Hard Times as Adults in Tough Economy

September 15th, 2011   No Comments   Aging Out, Education Issues

In Fort Lauderdale, Broward County and across Florida, foster kids who leave the system – or ‘age out’ of foster care – at 18 find themselves struggling in a tough job market. Child care advocates, legal needs attorneys, and others say internships yield work experience – but in temporary jobs. Many former foster kids also lack personal and financial “management” skills needed to be self-sufficient, independent and to thrive in the workplace.

Statewide, data shows that some 47 percent of teens in foster care graduate with a high school diploma. Across the U.S., unemployment among “aged out” foster kids hovers around 56 percent, according to an article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Moreover, about 15 percent become homeless for one or more months within 12 months of leaving foster care, the paper reported.

“Between 2010 and 2011, about 100 teens in Broward and 80 in Palm Beach County aged out,” the paper reported. If they stay enrolled in school or meet other requirements, they may receive some $1,200 monthly from the state until they hit 23. Education, job training, finding mentors and learning life skills are key to thriving independently.

Read the entire story on aged out foster kids in the tough economy here.

Research Backs Need to Help Foster Kids Aging Out of System

July 12th, 2011   No Comments   Aging Out, Foster Care

Foster kids who “age out” or turn 18 and are forced to leave state care face a daunting future. Whether in Florida or elsewhere in the county, they often have faced emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Many lack emotional maturity needed for self-sufficiency. Rarely tasked with handling their own finances, they’re forced to do so soon after release from foster care. Never or rarely having lived on their own, their “independence” comes quickly — often faster than they’ve been prepared to handle. One study found that about 16% of kids aging out will end up homeless.

Various research reveals how unprepared foster kids are for their new-found independence. A groundbreaking 2010 report from the University of Chicago delved deeply into the effects of aging out on former foster care kids.

With the Florida Department of Children and Families and national-wide with state-run organizations charged with protecting foster kids and preparing them for their futures, many kids “fall through the cracks.”

Research shows how vulnerable they are once released from care — and how some organizations are helping with the transition. One report, from the National Alliance to End Homelessness in America 2011, found that that “one in six young adults who age out of foster care is likely to experience homelessness.”

Read this article on National Public Radio about kids aging out of foster care — and efforts to help them.