The Safe Children Coalition is a community coalition blending available resources to assist abused and neglected children and their families in reaching permanency in a safe and stable environment.
Core functions provided by the Sarasota YMCA's Safe Children Coalition are:
- Case Management
- Foster Care
- Independent Living Services
- Quality Management
- Community & Client Relations
- Data Services & Client Records
Principle system beliefs of the Sarasota YMCA and Safe Children Coalition:
- Child Safety, Health & Well being
- Community Involvement
- Resource Management
- Trauma Informed Care
- Concurrent Planning
- Single Point of Entry
- Individualized Case Planning
- Strength-Based Approach
- Continuity of Relationship
- Family Centered Practice
The idea to re-engineer the child welfare system in Florida began simply enough with a question of "what would you do if you could?"...and the answer "to have the community manage the foster care system". This question and answer came from the hearts of two compassionate leaders in Florida — former Governor Jeb Bush and former Sarasota Family YMCA President & CEO Carl Weinrich. Through these exchanges in 1994, the concept of Community Based Care (CBC) was born.
Senator John McKay led the way to pass the first piece of legislation mandating that Sarasota County be a pilot for Community Based Care, with statewide implementation of local control to be realized by 2005.
In 1997 the YMCA became the lead agency of a coalition of 12 community agencies in the privatization of Child Welfare/Foster Care and related services in Sarasota County. The mission of the Foster Care program is to provide comprehensive services to children and families needing foster care or at risk of needing foster care through a collaborative effort that unites resources; holds all parties accountable to specific standards of care; evaluates performance and distribution of resources based on specific and measurable outcomes; holds permanency of the child's living arrangement and the continuity of relationships for the child as the primary goals; and provides these services through an inclusive and informative relationship with the community and state. The services provided include foster parent recruitment, training and licensure; adoptions; foster care; protective supervision; and voluntary family services.
Child Welfare Services
An expansion into Manatee County for Community-Based Care child-welfare services began in the fall of 1999. Similar to the Sarasota County project, the YMCA became the Lead Agency of a Safe Children Coalition of community agencies to assist Manatee County's abused and neglected children and their families in reaching their full potential in a safe and stable environment.
Adoption and Foster Care Services
Safe Children Coalition started adoptions and licensing services in June of 1999 and began delivering foster care services by the fall of 1999. An audit completed in the latter part of fiscal year 2000 reported that both Sarasota and Manatee Counties' performance results were better than or equal to any other project throughout the State in 28 of 32 outcomes measured.
The project expanded again to include DeSoto County. In the fall of 2001, the DeSoto County project was added as the third county under the leadership of the YMCA, initially serving 251 children.
Now known as the Safe Children Coalition, our project covers the three counties of the 12th Judicial Circuit. We still offer a continuum of care from shelter to permanency in an attempt to foster hope...foster or adopt a child.
The goal of Family Finders is to assist children in licensed care with making lasting connection(s) to his/her family member(s), and if possible, to also find a home for the child living with one of these family connections. The Family Finders program is not just about "finding" or locating family members or "placements". It is designed to locate, engage, connect, and support family resources for the children we serve. When children grow up in a community surrounded by family, they have the ability to access many resources in the most normative setting. They have the opportunity to learn more of who they are and where they come from in relationship to their own family. When children become isolated from family and natural supports they lose access to the very people that could support them through crises and help them grow up through young adulthood. Techniques such as electronic database mining as well as traditional social work practices of interviewing, completing genograms, ecomaps and connectedness mapping are used during this process. Family Finders partners closely with our case management organizations to achieve the best possible outcomes for our children.
A precious 6 year old girl came into foster care after being neglected in her home. Family Finders located a paternal relative to this child who had not had any contact with her since she was 1½ years old. The family always wanted to be involved in the child's life, but because of broken relations between the different sides of the family, they were not given the chance to know what was going on in her life. As soon as the family got word that this little girl was in foster care and needed them, they jumped in right away, trying to find out how they could help and what they could do to have her come and stay with them. This little girl was able to eventually go and live with this relative and reestablish this relationship that would never have opened back up without the Family Finders program.
A beautiful little 3 year old was placed in one of our local foster homes. With the collaborative efforts of Family Finders and Case Management, we were able to locate and get information on the child's family. The relatives actively pursued the home study process and were approved as relative caregivers for this child. In efforts to help transition this little girl to her family, the foster family helped with Skypeing to the relatives. The Foster Parents worked with Case Management, the relatives and others to help transition this child to her new home with family that she had not yet gotten the chance to meet previously in person.
A very smart and energetic young man was placed into a youth shelter when he was 11 years old due a parent's medical emergency. Often living on the streets with his parent, he had been told growing up that he had no family, except that he had a brother living out of state. When Family Finders started searching for relatives, it was found that this parent had many other siblings living in the state that had been trying to find the parent and this young man for many years. The family was overjoyed to finally learn where he was and what was going on with him. He got to meet numerous family members, including seeing his brother who was actually living close by, unbeknownst to this child. The family gladly took him into their home, and he got the opportunity to build and grow these relationships with his own family that he so very much wanted to have.