The Florida Coalition for Children Foundation and the FCC Learning Community held its 2023 Annual Conference last week at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort in Bonita Springs, Florida where an all-time high number of attendees enjoyed two days focused on child and family well-being with inspiring keynote speakers, educational offerings by national experts, the 2023 FCC Awards program, a bustling trade show, and networking at several fun events.
The two keynote speakers, well known and respected across the nation, brought their unique perspectives and philosophies to the audience of child welfare professionals and other stakeholders in attendance.
Monday’s Keynote Speaker Amelia Franck Meyer is a 34-year veteran of the child welfare field and the founder and CEO of the national non-profit, Alia International. Amelia and Team Alia collaborate with parents and partners to create a national movement to keep children safe with, not from, their families. She was named one of People Magazine’s “25 Women Changing the World” in 2018 and 2020 and has a widely viewed TEDx Talk on the human need for belonging.
Keynote Speaker Dr. Kimberly Noble, MD, PhD, a Professor of Neuroscience and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, addressed the general session Tuesday. As a neuroscientist and board-certified pediatrician, she studies how socioeconomic inequality relates to children’s cognitive and brain development. Her work and TEDx Talk examines socioeconomic disparities in brain structure and function across infancy, childhood, and adolescence.
The 2023 workshop roster of twenty-five sessions was carefully created from a list of national experts as well as Florida-centered leaders in community-based care. Topics of the workshops ranged from national movements like Thriving Families Safer Children, to addressing childhood trauma, trends in child welfare financing, innovative child welfare career training, and more. The full roster can be found HERE.
Community Café-style roundtable discussions and strategy sessions also took place among invited members of the child welfare field, Florida Legislators, State University representatives, and other dignitaries who were also in attendance. Strategies and findings from the study of several systemic issues will be wrapped up in a third annual report on the topics of child welfare workforce retention; equity, inclusion, and disproportionality; parents and caregivers with lived experience; youth engagement; and the Family First Prevention Services Act.
Several outstanding members of the FCC were honored in six categories during the 2023 Awards program for exemplary work in measurably improving the lives of Florida children and families. The recipients are as follows:
- Collective Impact Leadership Award: Karin Flositz, CEO, Community Partnership for Children
- Nurturing Well-Being Award: Dennis Maneja, COO, St. Augustine Youth Services
- Parent/Caregiver with Lived Experience Award: Amanda Land, Caregiver Support Licensing Level I Specialist, Heartland for Children
- Youth/Young Adult Leadership Award: Lucan Phillips, Youth Leader, Safe Children Coalition
- Innovator of the Year Award: Christopher Rossi, Peer Recovery Specialist Supervisor, Children’s Network of Southwest Florida
- Champion for Children Award: Larry Rein, President and CEO, ChildNet
FCC President and CEO Kurt Kelly was also honored for his ten-year tenure leading the charge to transform Florida children and families’ lives to a sustainable path of emotional health and well-being.
The 2024 FCC Conference will take place July 21-23 at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
The mission of the Florida Coalition for Children (FCC) is to advocate on behalf of Florida’s abused, abandoned, neglected, and at-risk children, and to support the agencies and individuals who work on their behalf.
The vision of the Coalition is to see a system of child welfare in Florida that is fully resourced, well-managed, and fulfills the needs of Florida’s vulnerable children and families.
With over 60 years of history in the state, FCC, which was originally called the Florida Association of Child and Family Agencies (FACFA), has grown and transformed alongside the child welfare system. In 2002, after the statewide implementation of a new community-based child welfare system, the Coalition changed its name and restructured to form an unprecedented partnership between child welfare service providers and the emerging community-based care lead agencies.
In addition to contracting with various state agencies to provide services, our members must also raise additional funds from private sources to provide programs and services to Florida’s vulnerable children.
FCC staff facilitate member collaboration and resource sharing, and alongside our members, educate state and local policymakers on the needs of Florida’s foster, adoptive and in-crisis families. Maintaining a strong presence in Tallahassee, the location of our association headquarters, FCC works with lobbyists, the legislative and executive branches, child welfare advocates, and members of the public to monitor and affect legislation relevant to our members and the children and families they serve.