May is National Foster Care Month, a month set aside to recognize foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals and other community members who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections.
Monthly Update - May 2017  
In Celebration of the Florida's Children First 2017 Outstanding Youth  Advocate of the Year
Talk about something to celebrate! Last week, Florida's Children First recognized Cameron Santamarina, son of FFCR Review Specialist Yani Sanchez, as the 2017 Youth Advocate of the Year for the advocacy he's conducted through Florida Youth SHINE. The annual awards reception, held to honor individuals, families and organizations that make a significant difference in the lives of children, took place on May 18th in Miami.

Said Laura Rebollo, Development Coordinator at Florida's Children First, in Cameron's award invitation: "[...] the Florida Children's First Statewide Board of Directors has selected you ... because you are an outstanding youth who has become a voice for other children in foster care. We are so proud of you and we thank you." 

We're proud of you, too, Cameron! Huge congrats from everyone at Florida Foster Care Review.
Florida Foster Care Review Honors Child Welfare Professionals Who Go the Extra Mile
As part of the Citizen Review Panel (CRP) Program, Florida Foster Care Review regularly recognizes outstanding case managers and other child welfare practitioners with our Child Welfare Professional of the Month Award. The expert review specialists who oversee the CRP process select awardees based on their professionalism during CRP hearings, excellent presentation skills, thorough documentation, knowledge of their clients' needs and exceptional efforts to provide quality services to children and families.  The three awardees for January, February and March 2017 are  Ericka Turk-Moore , Regional Counsel at the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel Lamar Thomas , Guardian ad Litem Supervisor at the Guardian ad Litem Program; and Kiska Sanders , Case Manager Supervisor at the Family Resource Center. Special thanks to the three of you for working hard to achieve positive outcomes for children and youth.

Watch our 1-minute video below and then

May is National Foster Care Month, and at FFCR we're renewing our commitment to children, youth and young adults in foster care by kicking off our 2017 Annual Fund Drive. Current FFCR board member David McWilliams and FFCR legacy board member Peggy Hudson have each given $10,000 in challenge funds to match the first $20,000 in Annual Fund donations dollar-for-dollar. To everyone who has donated so far, THANK YOU! If you haven't donated yet, there is still time. Do it today!
FFCR PRT Co-Managers Kendra Copeland and Melissa Martinez-Esteve pause for a selfie with Kristen Moule-Hernandez of Children's Legal Services
FFCR Team Members Share and Learn at Quarterly Statewide Permanency Roundtable Meeting

Last week, Florida Foster Care Review staff members Kendra Copeland and Melissa Martinez-Esteve attended the quarterly statewide meeting of Permanency Roundtable (PRT) practitioners in Florida. FFCR's  Permanency Roundtable Program is a highly-focused strategic process designed exclusively to help children and youth in foster care make lifelong connections to stable, caring adults and achieve forever families. Casey Family Programs pioneered PRTs nationally, and PRTs currently operate in 12 Florida jurisdictions. The May 18th meeting included updates from each site, as well as a review of system barriers and action plans to address issues such as caseworker turnover, the perception that youth are better off staying in foster care, the lack of understanding of permanency's value and more.

The meeting also incorporated two presentations on relevant dependency-related topics. The first presentation, conducted by Racquell (Rocky) Perry and Michael McDowell of Educate Tomorrow, discussed program benefits, eligibility requirements and the application process for Keys to Independence, which helps youth in foster care get driver's licenses. The second presentation, by Gerry Glynn, Chief Legal Officer at Community-Based Care Holdings of Central Florida, discussed strategies for more effectively addressing the needs of youth with disabilities. Following the presentations, one PRT site presented a case that has proven particularly difficult. All attendees then participated in a mini-consultation, offering suggestions and learning from each other during joint brainstorming.
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Foster Youth Weekly, FFCR's Online Newspaper 

Like being in the know? FFCR curates Foster Youth Weekly, an online paper focusing on resources useful to and supportive of youth in foster care and young adults recently in care. Check it out for employment info and more. To receive it in your inbox, be sure to subscribe!