The System Explained
The Foster Care System in Miami
The System Explained
11th Judicial Circuit of Dependency Court
The judges of the 11th Judicial Circuit of the Juvenile Dependency Division are tasked with the mission to ensure the permanency, safety, and well-being of children in state custody. The Dependency Court presides over abuse, neglect and abandonment cases. The main hearings in a dependency case are required to meet state and federal statutory guidelines. Permanency goals of the court are generally reunification with rehabilitated parents, adoption (if a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed) or permanent guardianship.
Juvenile Dependency. (2022). Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. https://www.jud11.flcourts.org/Juvenile-Dependency
(Hon. O. Prescott, personal communication, July 9, 2020)
Center for Child and Family Enrichment (CFCE)
The Center for Child and Family Enrichment (CFCE) is a full-case management agency, a prevention-focused safety management program and a residential program contracted by Citrus Family Care Network that handles the cases of approximately 600 children in Miami-Dade County’s child welfare system. CEO Delores Dunn and Kerry Lewis, Director of Child Welfare Programs spearhead this community-based care agency. CFCE is a private 501(c)(3) organization that also provides behavioral health services and medical care. In the child welfare arena, CFCE provides full case management, a prevention-focused safety management program and a residential program.
CFCE Inc. (2022). Home. https://www.cfcecares.org/
(D. Dunn & K. Lewis, personal communication, July 22, 2020)
The CHANCE Program is a specialized therapeutic foster care and community response team for victims of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The CHANCE Program provides services through two tracks – CHANCE Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care and CHANCE Community Response Team – or in the Citrus Health Network Statewide Inpatient Psychiatric Program, depending on the needs of the child. As part of its Foster Care Department, Citrus currently recruits and licenses Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care (STFC) homes. In STFC, a maximum of two children can be placed in a home, and foster parents are required to obtain an additional 36 hours of specialized training beyond the regular foster home license.
The CHANCE Program. (2022). Citrus Health Network. http://www.citrushealth.org/CHANCE
(G. Omar, personal communication, July 22, 2020).
Children’s Home Society
Children’s Home Society (CHS) of Florida is a statewide organization that provides care and support to children and families. In Miami, CHS contracts with Citrus Family Care Network to deliver dependency case management services to children and families involved in the foster care system. CHS works to prevent child abuse and neglect by proactively partnering with and supporting parents through its highly successful Healthy Families and Family Preservation (in-home parenting) programs. Children’s Home Society also provides trauma informed mental health counseling through its behavioral health program.
Children’s Home Society of Florida. (2022, April 28). CHS. Children’s Home Society of Florida | We Do Good. www.chsfl.org
(L. Pons, personal communication, July 22, 2020).
Citrus Family Care Network
Citrus Family Care Network (Citrus) is the lead Community-based Care Center for DCF’s southern region, which incorporates Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Citrus has subcontracted four agencies to provide full dependency case plan management services to children in their care: Center for Family and Child Enrichment (CFCE) in Northern Miami-Dade, Family Resource Center (FRC) in central Miami-Dade, Children’s Home Society (CHS) in south Miami-Dade, and Wesley House in Monroe County. These agencies are also known as Full Case Management Agencies, or FCMAs Citrus monitors the permanency progress within the four FCMAs, with the top goal being reunification. When that is not possible, the best outcome includes kinship care and adoption. Citrus uses various community agencies to provide case-specific services for prevention, enrichment, and resources to address challenges and provide support, when needed.
Citrus Family Care Network. (2022). Citrus Family Health Network. https://www.citrusfcn.com/
(L. Veiga, personal communication, August 4, 2020).
(M. Torres, personal communication, June 19, 2020).
Department Of Children And Families (DCF)
In Florida, under the leadership of Secretary Chad Poppell, DCF is the agency appointed to manage services and federal benefits to families and vulnerable adults. DCF divides the state into six regions and 20 judicial circuits. Miami-Dade County is in the Southern Region (along with Monroe County) and in the 11th Judicial Circuit. Each region has a lead Community-Based Care organization (CBC) that is contracted to oversee the permanency outcomes of children under state supervision. Professionals in the child welfare field follow a specific system of care that focuses on safety, permanency and well-being of children and families. Their vision is that “every child in Florida thrives in a safe, stable and permanent home, sustained by nurturing relationships and strong community connections.”
Florida Department of Children and Families. (2019). Office of Child Welfare Statutes, Rules, and Operating Procedures. https://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/child-welfare/statutes-rules-operating-procedures.shtml
Family Resource Center (FRC) of South Florida
The Family Resource Center of South Florida is a combined child welfare agency and community mental health center in Miami-Dade County. Since 1978, their objective has been “championing the rights of children to grow up in a healthy and safe environment.” The organization promotes family wholeness through child-parent psychotherapy, abuse prevention/treatment, foster, and adoptive placement assistance, mental health counseling, and case plan management. Multilingual Services provide interpretation and translation in three languages: English, Spanish, and Creole. Over 2,500 children, adolescents, and adults have found support through FRC in the past year. Family Resource Center allied families to create a safe and loving home environment– because “nothing is more fundamental to a community than the safety and well being of its children” (Home, 2022).
Family Resource Center. (2022, January 12). Home. frcflorida.org
Florida Guardian ad Litem Office
The Florida Guardian ad Litem Office represents Florida’s abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the court and community. Through the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team that includes an attorney, a trained volunteer, and a certified child advocate manager, our team provides quality legal representation for children’s best interests while assisting the child in expressing their needs and wishes. Our unique approach allows us to support the whole child, addressing their physical, educational, mental, emotional, social, and legal needs. Florida Guardian ad Litem is appointed to a child by a judge, our volunteers play an important role in advocating and representing our most vulnerable children in our communities. By establishing relationships with their assigned children and those individuals involved in those children’s lives, our volunteers are able to provide critical information to the court to ensure no child’s needs go unheard.
Guardians ad Litem volunteers work in conjunction with Guardian ad Litem staff in a multi-disciplinary team model to represent a child’s best interests. Volunteers are teamed up with a Child Advocate Manager (a staff member who supports the volunteer with case management) and a Guardian ad Litem Attorney. Volunteers must pass a background screening and successfully complete a provided training curriculum that includes courses in dependency law, communicating with children and families, and cultural competency, among others.
In 2021, Florida Guardian ad Litem represented over 37,000 children with over 13,000 volunteers.
Guardians ad Litem. (2022). We Are Miami Guardians. http://wearemiamiguardians.org/
(P. Abaroa, personal communication, March 4, 2021)
Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel
The Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel Third Region was created under Florida legislation in 2007 to provide legal representation to indigent people in criminal, dependency, delinquency and mental health cases. Margaret Julien, the managing attorney for the dependency division under Eugene Zenobi (appointed by the governor of Florida), supervises seventeen attorneys in the firm. Ms. Julien and her team represent the biological parents on dependency cases in the foster care system. Many clients face mental health issues, substance abuse addiction, and a history of trauma themselves which is why wraparound support for biological parents is pivotal.
Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel. (2022). Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel Third District. http://rc3fl.com/
(M. Julian, personal communication, July 14, 2020)
The Florida Department of Children and Families contracts with Educate Tomorrow to be the lead agency operating a program called Positive Pathways. The goal of Positive Pathways is to provide focused on-campus resources for foster youth by working with on-campus “foster care liaisons” at public colleges and universities throughout Florida. Liaisons are appointed at 28 state schools and ten universities. Foster care liaisons provide valuable expertise and help students along the way so a foster youth can make the best decision for their post-secondary education. The program’s mission statement is to “connect, unite and act” on behalf of foster youth and give them the highest chance at success. Miami Dade College and Florida International University (FIU) are both active within the Positive Pathways network and provide excellent education and wraparound opportunities for foster children.
Positive Pathways. (2022). About Us. www.positivepathwaysflorida.org
Youth Advisory Council
The Youth Advisory Council is a service group that positively incorporates youth voices into Citrus Family Care Network (Citrus FCN). Meaningful dialogue with teens on the questions which impact them directly is vital to Program success. The Committee creates an opportunity for Citrus FCN to solicit youth insights or feedback on policy design, implementation, and evaluation. It provides a mechanism through which Citrus FCN’s Services Department can benefit from fresh perspective and input. Additionally, the Committee promotes leadership and advocacy for teen issues– as active and engaged young people can have far-reaching impacts on administrative actions. Outreach programs, led by the Youth Advisory Council, empower Miami-Dade and Monroe neighborhoods with the information needed to recruit foster and adoptive parents (About Us, 2022). Citrus’ Youth Advisory Council is led by Demarco DeMott.
Citrus Family Care Network. Citrus Family Health Network. (2022). https://www.citrusfcn.com/
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