SARASOTA, FL – On December 7, the Manatee County Foster Care Initiative sponsored the Foster Care Fair Funding Forum: A Community Conversation. Kelly Romanoff of the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation opened the event and laid the groundwork for the discussion. Moderator for the event was former Herald-Tribune opinion editor Tom Tryon; panelists included local champions for children, Senator Joe Gruters, Representative Fiona McFarland, Representative Tommy Gregory, and Safe Children Coalition CEO Brena Slater. Nearly 100 concerned members of the community were in attendance.
The goal of the event, which took place at the Historic Asolo Theater at The Ringling, was to mobilize the community to speak out for additional funding to the system of care for at-risk children, to revise Florida’s funding model and address the glaring inequities within the formula.
Many issues surrounding Florida’s child welfare system and funding issues were discussed; conversation emphasized for our circuit delegation – as well as guests at the event – the need for adequate funding to provide appropriate care for children in the foster care system. The state officials in attendance will be crafting a bill to present to the state House and Senate addressing the issue.
The elected officials noted it was very important that, when these bills are assigned for a hearing, supporters make the trip to Tallahassee to be physically present and show their backing for the initiative.
“We believe it’s time for adequate funding in Circuit 12 so we can make the needed investment in the future of our Circuit 12 children,” said Slater. “We appreciate the support of the Manatee County Commissioners in making this issue one of their top three priorities this year. “The Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto delegations as well as our visionary area foundations are such a vital support for our system of care.”
Safe Children Coalition, which serves nearly 8,000 children and families in Florida’s Circuit 12 (Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties), receives about $24 million annually in core funding from the state to address approximately 2,170 vulnerable children under court jurisdiction as well as to provide services for and the diversion of an additional 2,000 children. The organization receives by far one of the lowest funding amounts per child served – totaling tens of millions less in core funding than other higher-funded Community Based Care agencies – while contending with one of the highest child removal rates in the state, due in large part to the opioid crisis.
Safe Children Coalition is responsible for serving children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned, and reducing the likelihood of children being abused. Services include fostering, adoption, prevention and diversion, out-of-home case management, and more. For more information, visit sccfl.org.
About Safe Children Coalition, Inc.
Safe Children Coalition, Inc. (SCC) serves as the lead agency for community-based care for Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties. SCC is a collaboration between local community agencies that provide services to children and families in need. SCC is committed to protecting children, strengthening families, and building community. The core functions provided by SCC include child welfare case management, foster care, adoption, independent living, prevention, diversion, quality management, and support services as well as other social service programs. Visit sccfl.org or call 941-371-4799.