Dear Florida Network Friends,
We have had a busy couple of weeks here at the Network. Last month, we had legislative visits to four of our shelters, and the Network turned 41 years on July 23!
As August begins, many of our youth and families are thinking about what's coming next: the start of a new school year. Returning to school can be very exciting, but for many it can be difficult to get back into the routine of going to school every day. Keep reading below for back to school tips to help make the transition from summer as smooth as possible!
I hope you can soak up these last few days of summer, and have a successful school year!
Keep the faith,
Stacy Gromatski, Ed.S.
President and CEO
Florida Network of Youth and Family Services

The Network's 41st birthday was on July 23! We can't thank our wonderful team enough for their dedication and efforts to ensure the Network works. We could not have made it this far without them! Check out the highlight video from our 2017 Annual Meeting, including our 40th Anniversary Celebration!


- Complete all of your summer work before starting school 
(summer reading, summer math, etc.)
- Go back to school shopping
- Organize what you need for the first week and the rest of the year
- Come up with a study plan for the year
- Make a list of goals you can strive to achieve

As legislators visit our member agencies throughout the summer, we will be sharing their experiences with you via this e-newsletter and a blog post on our website. 

(L-R): Crystal Westman, Cheri Pettitt, Sen. Dennis Baxley, Stacy Gromatski, Mark Shearon
July 18, 2017 - Sen. Dennis Baxley (R- Ocala) visited  Arnette House .

(L-R): Robert Moore, Terence Washington, Gregg Miller, Rep. Patricia Williams
July 20, 2017 - Rep. Patricia Williams (D- Lauderdale Lakes) and Mr. Robert Moore, the District Secretary, visited Lutheran Services Florida Lippman Youth Shelter.

July 20, 2017 - Rep. Mike Miller (R- Orlando) visited Orange County Youth and Family Services.

(L-R): CHS West Palm Executive Director Julie Demar, Clemens' Aide Melissa Santoro, Sen. Jeff Clemens, Stacy Gromatski, Director of Program Operations Nefretiri McGriff, Residential Program Manager Duane Gross
July 28, 2017 - Sen. Jeff Clemens (D- Lake Worth) visited Children's Home Society of Florida Safe Harbor Runaway Shelter.


We were proud to attend and exhibit at the Florida Sheriffs Association's Summer Conference, one of their largest events of the year, on July 23-26 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs. This conference included award recognitions, networking opportunities, association updates and important news in the field of law enforcement. We enjoyed informing law enforcement officers and other employees about the services we provide youth and families across the state. 


Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Assistant Secretary Alice Sims

The Florida Association of School Resource Officers held their 38th Annual Training Conference on July 9-14 in Orlando. We had our booth set up so schools across Florida could learn more about the programs, resources and services we offer Florida's students. We loved this year's conference theme, "protecting our most precious resource, our children."


A big congratulations to Board Member Dr.  Rosby Glover  for being appointed by  Governor Rick Scott  to the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council. We know your experience serving as the executive director of  Mount Bethel Human Services Corp  will be an asset to the group. We can't wait to see how you continue to impact lives in Florida!


Members, join us for our Summer QIC Meeting,  Aug. 9-11, 2017, at  Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in  Palm Harbor. RSVP by logging in to the Florida Network dashboard.


Youth Advocate Program provides services for youth and families involved in child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, education and adult systems. We appreciate your work!

Boys Town Central Florida's programs and services touch over 7,600 children and families in Central Florida each year. We appreciate your efforts to guarantee #TheNetworkWorks!

Urban League of Palm Beach County addresses challenges faced by youth and families by providing programs that move them into the economic mainstream through education, self-improvement and capacity building. Thank you for your hard work!

Thank you, Hillsborough County, Florida Government Children's Services, for providing both residential and outpatient services for youth, including Children in Need of Services (CINS) and Families in Need of Services (FINS) programs. 


During our 40th anniversary celebration in May 2017, we interviewed past executive directors and board members about their experiences at the Network. We appreciate their loyalty and dedication to the Network! We look forward to spotlighting interview quotes in each e-newsletter. 

In the Musings from Tallahassee section, a team member will share their thoughts on a variety of topics from life lessons to cooking to favorite memories advocating on behalf of Florida's youth and families. Today's musings are from Florida Network Communications Coordinator Michelle Avaroma!

Summer at the Florida Network

Greetings Networkers!

One of my favorite parts about summer is the Tour De France! Each year for three weeks in July the world's elite cyclists zoom around France and its surrounding countries in a quest to win the famed yellow jersey. These road warriors pick up points in each stage by traversing mountains and valleys in treacherous wind, torrential rain and blistering summer heat. What many people don't understand is that these cyclists compete in teams, constructed to include at least one rider with each specific skill set to help propel their leader to the finish line. Each team has a Sprinter, conserving their energy until the final sprint effort at the end of the race; a Climber, the best man for the mountain classifications that take competitors high into the Pyrenees each year; a Puncheur who is always ready for a short, steep climb; a Time Trialist, the powerhouse rider for the time trial stages; and multiple Domestiques, jacks of all trades who tend to the team by carrying water and other items from the team convoy to the riders. It's a wild three weeks that includes crashes, upsets and awe that these cyclists are able to ride upwards of 160KM/100 miles a day!

When I first began at the Network, only John and I cared about this international competition but now the love and interest for Le Tour has grown to include other Network team members who watch and discuss the competition each day in the office. This year even included a fantasy league. The reality is our Florida Network team functions a lot like a cycling team and watching this event goes hand in hand with my other favorite thing about summer: Summer at the Network.

After the busy spring season where the Network is a buzz preparing for Hill Day, the Annual Meeting, QIC and QA, the Florida Network office shifts gears for the summer. Our team gets back to basics, resetting our system and preparing for a new fiscal/program year. I watch in awe as the Network team members all hone in on the important tasks that make #TheNetworkWork. Each person refocuses on their own piece of contracts, amendments, trainings, events, data, and the things that will help propel our Florida Network members to best serve Florida's kids. The summer includes many program visits where we connect legislators with their local programs and shine a light on the wonderful work our members are doing in their communities every day. So while the Tour de France is a three week competition, our members are in a race to help Florida's vulnerable families 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our "yellow jersey" is making youth feel safe, heard and valued.

As the summer winds down, the kids go back to school, and our Florida Network calendar of events starts to fill up, I want to say thank you to my coworkers and the rest of the Florida Network family members who get up every day ready and willing to ride that extra mile for the youth we serve. You are the true champions!


We're offering our members a spot in our newsletter for events. If you're one of our 29 agencies and 28 shelters and have an event coming up, email Michelle at to be featured here.

To celebrate the beginning of the summer season, Miami Bridge Youth & Family Services hosted a summer barbecue. Guests enjoyed summer activities with youth who are being assisted by Miami Bridge. There was a buffet, inflatable bouncy house, karaoke, face painting and a station to make balloon animals. Read more here

CCYS is offering clothing, school supplies and bus rides (to and from school) to homeless youth in the Tallahassee area. Their goal is to make these student's lives as normal as possible. Read more here.

Meet Kevin Priest, he is the president and CEO of  CCYS and was one of Tallahassee Magazine's Top Singles. Kevin raised funds in support of CCYS and its mission to serve homeless, runaway and at-risk youth. Congrats, Kevin, and thank you for your constant support of Big Bend area youth. Click here   to learn more.

Camp Turn Up 2017
Arnette House strives to serve its community. The name "Camp Turn Up" was selected by kids participating in the two-week camp. During the week, kids were able to explore the Silver Springs River in a canoe, enjoy bike riding down the Greenway trails and swimming in De Leon Springs. In addition, topics were explored that addressed their concerns for the upcoming school year, issues with peers and bullying, anger, social media and how to demonstrate ongoing success. 

CDS Family & Behavioral Health Services hosted a "Career Day" for the youth in their summer enhancement program. The Department of Juvenile Justice, the Public Defender's Office, the State's Attorney's Office, Ride Solutions and TD Bank attended and talked to youth about the careers available with them. They are planning another "Career Day" at the beginning of August, and they hope to continue to implement this activity throughout the year to show youth what is possible in their future. 

Tampa Housing Authority 's Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Scholars are high achieving young high school students who will be attending the 2017 Congressional Black Caucus representing the Tampa Housing Authority.

Lippman Youth Shelter held a Master Chef Cook Off for their youth on Sunday, July 23. The youth were overwhelmed with surprises such as Master Chef t-shirts, gold medal awards and Master Chef hats! They participated as a team to prepare and present meals to the judges. All of the youth were transformed into Master Chefs!

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