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Hard Work Pays for Premier Florida Foster Child Advocacy Group

From Tallahassee to Main Street, Florida’s Children First enjoyed remarkable success over the past year in its mission to help the state’s vulnerable, abused and at-risk children. The organization and its supporters helped usher in several new laws and public interest efforts that together make life safer for Florida’s foster children and others. 

Among the initiatives, two bills the organization and its backers had proposed were made into law. They included the Counsel for Dependent Children with Special Needs (HB 561), which will help ensure legal counsel is provided to special-needs children in the state dependency system. The other was Juvenile Sentencing Reform (HB 7035), in which FCF served as part of a vital coalition of backers who helped advocate for the measure.

FCF also helped to get key language incorporated into important laws that were enacted this session. The language and bills included creation of a Website to Report Child Deaths or Neglect (SB 1666); Child-on-Child Sexual Assault (SB 1666); Services & Provision Tracking (SB 1666); and Accountability on Delivery of Services Through Community Alliance Boards (SB 1666).

Among the public interest efforts FCF is proud to have backed included helping organize the One Lawyer One Life-Statewide Pro Bono Project. Other Pro Bono Project Development included Crossroads for Florida Kids; Legal Aid of Manasota; JALA/Jax Bar & Broward Legal Aid; 13th Judicial Circuit Safe Reduction Workgroup; Florida Representative for the State Policy Advocacy Reform Center (SPARC); Establishing Core Training on Dependency & the One Lawyer One Life Project; Participation in the ABA Right to Counsel Strategy Group; and Outreach to Inform Former Foster Youth of Medicaid Eligibility.

Florida Youth Shine, a group of former foster children who work to assist those in the system. also backed legislation envisioned to promote independence among foster and dependent children. These included Keys to Independence-Providing Funding for Driver’s Licenses  and Insurance (HB 977) and Keeping IDs Safe – K.I.D.S. Act (SB 242). Other key language incorporated into law affected Non-relative Caregiver Funding (SB 1666) and Keeping Siblings Together (SB 1666).

Florida Youth Shine public interest endeavors included the 2014 Children’s Week at the Florida Capital; FYS Quarterly Meetings; Dependency Summit Panels on Sibling Separation and 2013 Normalcy Legislation; Florida Juvenile Justice Association Conference; NACAC Webinar-“Effective Legislative Strategies”; Presidential Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities; training videos for the Guardian ad Litem Program and Casey Foundation; and Medicaid Outreach for 4000 Former Foster Youth.

FYS also had committees and involvement related to Independent Living Task Force Committee; DCF Rule 65C 41 Special Issues Workshop; Transitional Planning Committees; Florida Reach; Fostering Florida’s Future; Quality Parenting Initiative Task Force; Pro Bono Recruitment; and GAL Trainings. They also were central to Media Advocacy on Child Welfare Issues.

Florida’s Children First, Inc.(FCF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the rights of at-risk children and youth, especially those in foster care. Uniquely positioned as Florida’s premiere independent advocacy organization, our mission is to seek full representation of children and youth and obtain meaningful and sustainable improvement in Florida’s child serving systems.


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