Florida Officials Honored for Helping Youth be ‘Ready by 21’
Washington, D.C. – Florida’s Children and Youth Cabinet was recognized recently by a national nonprofit for their efforts to help Florida’s children and teens become successful adults.
The Forum for Youth Investment named the members of Florida’s Children and Youth Cabinet as winners of the Ready by 21 ® Policy Leadership Award for their efforts “to ensure that all children and youth are ready by 21 – ready for college, work and life.” Florida was among eight awardees from around the country honored at a ceremony this morning in Washington, and the only full organization to be named a winner.
The Ready by 21 Policy Leadership Award recognizes state and federal policymakers who help youth by advancing broader partnerships, bigger goals, better data and bolder strategies.
DCF Secretary David Wilkins has made this same goal a priority in his administration, meeting with current and former foster youth around the state to identify ways to help children, teens and young adults have the tools they need for a successful life.
At the conference, Vivian Myrtetus, the Department’s Chief of Staff, highlighted innovative strategies used to create and strengthen our Children and Youth Cabinet and shared best practices with colleagues from other states.
In addition, Florida had an opportunity to advocate for Florida's children and families while raising the profile of our Children and Youth Cabinet with federal policymakers.
Florida’s Children and Youth Cabinet is composed of leaders from state agencies that are involved in youth issues, who meet regularly to coordinate services, policies, funding and other resources in order to make those services as efficient and effective as possible. Sec. Wilkins will be attending the next meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday in Tallahassee.
The Forum singled out the cabinet as “a collaborative set of policymakers who are improving outcomes for Florida's young people.” It cited among, other efforts, the cabinet’s “substantial progress in creating a comprehensive point-of-service data system to better serve children and youth.”
“The Children’s Cabinet has changed the way children’s issues are approached in Florida,” said long-time youth advocate Karen Pittman, founder and CEO of the Forum. “The Cabinet has made tremendous strides in aligning policies, maximizing scarce resources and coordinating services across departments to ensure that all Florida children grow up safe, healthy, educated and prepared to join the workforce.”
What’s more, Pittman noted, “all of this has been accomplished as a result of an impressive, sustained and increasingly unique bipartisan effort.”
“Promoting an integrated approach, collaboration, and a planned program implementation allows Florida to better serve our children and youth,” said Cyndee Odom, Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection. “The Children and Youth Cabinet continues to enhance communication and information sharing between our state agencies that serve children.”
The Forum for Youth Investment is a Washington-based, nonpartisan action tank that helps communities around the country make sure all young people are “ready by 21.” For more information visit www.forumforyouthinvestment.org.
Karen Pittman, founder and CEO of the Forum, on left, presents Leadership Award to
DCF Chief of Staff Vivian Myrtetus, second from right; and Cyndee Odom of the
Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection, right.