As we embrace the holiday’s and prepare for 2018, the Network reflected on all of our accomplishments over the past year and asked Stacy to list the things she is most proud of in 2017. As you can see, she couldn’t just name a few…

  1. The increase in diversity among our staff, we have two new faces at the Network, both of color and both with family from all over the USA and the world – I am excited to see how Jeniffer and Brandi will enrich our ability to have open hearts and minds in the service to youth and families
  2. The intellectual and experiential development of our staff – just last month Megan went to New Jersey to discuss national models of the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative, John recently visited Georgetown to begin the work of achieving certification in Supporting LGBTQ Youth, Kirk and Jeniffer will soon be traveling to Miami to learn about the Juvenile Service Division’s data collection, and many more examples of how our staff are learning how we can improve as a Network.
  3. The Network wide response to Hurricane Irma – with tremendous thanks to John, all of us at the office knew (minute by minute) what was happening with all of our programs before, during and after the storm. There was much to keep organized, and John did an amazing job staying connected with everyone. The true heroes were the staff of the programs – I am so proud of how selfless many of them were – to make sure that the children in our care were safe, no matter the discomfort or inconvenience or even fear that the storm created for each of them.
  4. Our accountability efforts – while the contract management component of what we do may not sound like the most exciting, it is certainly one of the most important jobs done at the Network. Because we have such a strong team here, and people like Terry and Jessica as well as our partners at Forefront – our funders continually have faith in us to get the job done. Tiffany has also done an amazing job staying in touch with the Nurses and overseeing issues with the medication carts.
  5. Advocacy – and speaking of funders, the legislature funded SNAP expansion showing their continued confidence in the Network and its members.
  6. Our partnership with DJJ – with each difficult issue, policy concern or random bit of bureaucratic red tape, we have found our partners at DJJ willing to listen and more often than not, be supportive in making changes that help us to get the job done.
  7. Our events keep getting better and better – we frequently receive comments that “this was the best one ever” – Celia puts so much effort into making sure that the venues we work with provide excellent service, accommodations and food – we know how hard all of our folks work, so we want them to feel extra special when attending Network events.
  8. And speaking of events, we are continually working to improve our training program for all of our members, and Karen was successful this year in completing the process of the Network being a CEU provider! A first in over 40 years!!
  9. Our PR efforts – we now have a new website and a new Parent Brochure with more materials to be ready soon. The newsletter has a broad distribution base and we are able to share our accomplishments throughout Florida! Michelle is also wrapping up what may be our best Annual Report ever.
  10. New programming – SNAP expansion – as you all know, we started with four sites and now we have 10!! This is a huge undertaking, and I am so proud of Megan, Lauren and Brandi for their passion about this program and their efforts to be a huge support to all of our SNAP pioneers! We are also piloting digital log books at 10 sites (thanks to the vision of Keith Carr) and Intensive Case Management Services at six sites – I am very grateful for those agencies that were willing to step into a Brave New World with us!
  11. The Expansion of our DJJ Respite contract- we can now serve youth in non-residential programming- Family and Youth Respite After Care (FYRAC), thereby further addressing the issues that required the respite stay. Megan worked hard to get this approved by DJJ and is also looking at other creative ways to expand services for youth in need.
  12. NetMIS 2.0 – Kirk and Rodger and the team at Velocity worked for over a year to upgrade our one of a kind data collection system which utilizes current web technology. The migration was smooth, thanks to all of the hard work of Kirk’s team of data administrators at each agency. Jeniffer also worked tirelessly to match JJIS and NetMIS records, and we now have a great start on reconciliation for last year.
  13. Finally I want to mention how proud I am of the members of the EAR. When I look back over my notes over the years, I am reminded that those meetings often contained tension, anger and even isolation of some members. While conflict is an important part of any group – there must be trust in the relationships for conflict to manifest and resolve in the best way. I have had the pleasure of watching positive relationships build between the members, and friendships develop.

It is my hope that we will continue to blossom while we all keep the faith.