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Contact: Heather Morgan

  State leader honors quiet champions who protect children from danger

     May 14 is Child Welfare Professionals Recognition Day

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (May 11, 2012) — On the heels of Mother’s Day, another group of caring but unheralded adults will be honored for their heroic efforts to protect and guide abused, neglected and abandoned children.  A group of these unsung heroes from Children’s Home Society of Florida will meet with Secretary David Wilkins of the Florida Department of Children and Families Monday, May 14, 2012, as the kickoff to Child Welfare Professionals Recognition Day.

Secretary Wilkins will meet workers who are on the front lines of the battle against child abuse every day, joining Children’s Home Society of Florida Executive Director Charles McDonald to honor their commitment to change children’s lives.  During his tour of Case Management Units at Children’s Home Society of Florida’s Tharpe Street location, Secretary Wilkins will observe child welfare professionals on-the-job, overcoming a myriad of hurdles to help a child or parent. He’ll hear their stories of braving dangerous homes to save a child and their hopes for helping even more children in peril.

Foster parents and volunteer board members of Children’s Home Society of Florida also will meet with Secretary Wilkins, and will be joined by representatives of Big Bend Community Based Care.

Next, Secretary Wilkins will ride-along with a social worker responsible for the safety and wellbeing of approximately 20 children at any given time … children who’ve been removed from their homes for their own protection and who now live in a foster care home.  After this private, firsthand interview, the Secretary will visit with children presently living safely in a shelter home where he also will spend time with two key staff.  One has the daunting responsibility of making life for these heartbroken children as normal as possible in an unfamiliar setting where they live with strangers who are kind, but are not family. Another who, among a long list of duties, encourages children’s family members to visit their children and to improve their home lives so the kids may be able to return, takes over doctor and dentist visits in the parents’ absence, checks on school progress, navigates court proceedings, and seeks families to foster or adopt kids who can’t return home.

Child Welfare Professionals Recognition Day was created by the Florida Legislature in 2008 to celebrate those who devote their careers – their lives, really – to protecting kids and strengthening families.  With the number of children in foster care in Florida at 30,000, not enough can be said or done to thank these selfless professionals for stepping up for kids.


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