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Foster Advocacy Group Florida’s Children First to Host Miami-Dade Fundraiser

Florida’s Children First will hold its Miami-Dade Child Advocate Awards and Reception  on December 3, 2009 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.

Child advocates, community and business leaders, and all other persons concerned about the future of Florida’s children, especially abused, abandoned and neglected children and youth are welcome. A $100 contribution is suggested; all proceeds will benefit Florida’s Children First, the leading child advocacy organization in Florida.

The event will honor three children’s advocates, including the Honorable Carlos Martinez, Andi Steinaker, and foster care “graduate” Julia Villamizar.

Mr. Martinez is the first Hispanic elected as Public Defender in the United States. In his 20 year career as a public servant, Mr. Martinez has instituted numerous initiatives in the area of Juvenile Justice; helping troubled kids achieve the American dream, addressing the crisis of minority children being cycled from the school house to the jailhouse; and fighting against the use of shackling children in juvenile courtrooms. Mr. Martinez’s office currently manages over 400 employees and volunteers and handles over 100,000 cases per year.

Ms. Steinaker, a volunteer for the Guardian Ad Litem program in Miami for 20 years. She is a committed professional who finds the time to give back and help children who are facing often complex and terrifying circumstances. Ms. Steinaker has created a support group for volunteers which provides training, served on the board of “Voices for Children”, and is Chair of the National CASA Forgotten Children Campaign Committee.

Finally,  foster care “graduate” Julia Villamizar is the oldest of three siblings. She entered the foster care system at 16 years old. As a child, she lived in Jersey City, N.J. and Venezuela before finding a home in Miami. Now, Julia spends most of her time in school studying at the FIU School of Social Work and giving back to the community. She serves as the secretary of Florida Youth S.H.I.N.E. and is involved with Lawyers for Children America, the Miami Chapter of Florida Youth SHINE, and Educate Tomorrow. In 2007, Julia won an internship with the Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute and served her State Representative and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Capitol Hill as an intern.

The event will be held at the law firm White & Case LLP in the Wachovia Financial Center (200 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 4900) in Miami. For information, call 954-768-0860 or email fcf@floridaschildrenfirst.org.

About Florida’s Children First: Florida’s Children First is the leading statewide child advocacy program, serving as “watchdog” agency, holding DCF and others accountable, and helping them do a better job at protecting the children who need their services.  As a non-profit organization, FCF seeks meaningful and sustainable improvements in all child-serving systems with a special emphasis on the foster care system. FCF achieves its goals through building collaborations, legislative and policy advocacy, executive branch accountability, training and technical assistance, targeted publications and litigation. The organization is based in Coral Springs and has offices in Tampa and Jacksonville, and works all over the state.

For more information on the fundraiser visit www.floridaschildrenfirst.org.  For interviews with any of the FCF Board Members, please contact Michelle Friedman or Carolyn Popescu at Boardroom Communications at 954-370-8999.

FCF receives grants from The Florida Bar Foundation and generous sponsors including: United Automobile Insurance Group; Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate; President’s Fest in the Park; and many other individuals and corporations.

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