State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Big Bend CBC

October 26, 2011
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Gillespie
DCF Press Secretary, (850) 459-2063

~ More than 100 Stakeholders Expected to Attend “Raising the Bar” Summit ~

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – The Florida Department of Children and Families and Big Bend Community Based Care are teaming up with more than 100 local stakeholders to discuss the child welfare system of care and collaborate on new ideas and initiatives to improve the lives of children in Northwest Florida.

This meeting is a follow-up to the statewide Pathways to Independence Summit that took place in September. Each circuit held group meetings at the summit to discuss improvements that could be made to the child welfare system in their areas. Meetings in Circuit 2 will continue to be held locally to implement these plans.

Agencies attending the meeting include: DCF, Big Bend Community Based Care, Children’s Legal Services, the Early Learning Coalition, Children’s Home Society, Camelot Community Care, DISC Village, Boys Town, and Florida Baptist Children's Home, along with the local school system, law enforcement and court administration.

The Honorable Dawn Caloca-Johnson, 2nd Judicial Circuit Family Division judge, and the Honorable Jill C. Walker, Wakulla County judge, will be leading some of the discussions. DCF Secretary David Wilkins will also be speaking.

The initiatives on the agenda include:

  • Model Court Project, which envisions Florida as a national model for family-centered practice. Judges and magistrates promote the stability, physical safety, and emotional well-being of children involved in court, so children will be safe, have a permanent place to live, and thrive in stable and permanent homes.
  • Quality Parenting Initiative, which provides effective and improved practice for training, supporting and empowering foster parents, including specific tools and resources foster parents can use to improve a child’s behaviors and manage their own stress.
  • Everybody’s a Teacher, an initiative designed to encourage individuals and communities to become involved in the education of children and youth in foster care and address issues that often stand in the way of their doing well in school.

The Circuit 2 Raising the Bar Summit will be held at the Betty Easley Conference Center at Southwood on Oct. 28 from 8:30 a.m.-Noon. The media is invited to attend.