SARASOTA, FL – In the wake of the signing of the 2022-2023 Florida budget, which saw a significant financial boost for community-based care agencies across the state, Safe Children Coalition celebrated the successful advocacy that resulted in additional funding for foster care. To thank and recognize those who championed children and families, Safe Children Coalition (SCC) hosted a Legislative Advocacy Day at its north Sarasota headquarters on August 29. Approximately 50 community members were in attendance, including representatives from child-serving organizations and governmental agencies, funders, and SCC leaders and staff.
During the 2022 legislative session, child welfare champions state Senator Joe Gruters and Florida Representative Fiona McFarland – along with local delegations – advocated tirelessly for additional funding for Community-Based Care in Circuit 12. Legislative efforts resulted in an additional $150 million statewide in core funding for community-based care agencies – including an $8.6 million increase in Circuit 12 for 2022-2023 – enabling Safe Children Coalition to start the year with a balanced budget and increase case management staff.
Safe Children Coalition president and CEO Brena Slater welcomed guests, expressed the organization’s appreciation for the increase in funding, and then explained what SCC is doing with the additional $8.6 million: increasing the number of case managers on staff to lower caseloads; increasing case manager salaries, to be more on par with surrounding communities, assist in recruitment and reduce turnover; and increasing its capacity to contract with relevant agencies and, thus, take better care of children.
Newly-chosen SCC board chair Mike Rahn – who was recently elected to the Manatee County Commission – offered a thank-you to all in attendance as well as affirmation that caring for our children would continue to be a priority for the county. Then Kathleen Cowan, vice president of community-based care operations, took over for a presentation on the new child welfare map, which describes the process for various services and programs.
This event showcased the importance of community conversations and legislative collaboration in securing resources critical to protecting at-risk children and strengthening area families. For more about SCC’s work throughout Circuit 12 (Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties), 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 who 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. Visit sccfl.org or call 941-371-4799.