Dec 2022: QIC Meeting
By John Robertson
“It felt good to be home again. There is just no substitute for the low rumble of a packed room reconnecting, or meeting for the first time, waiting for the meeting to start. It felt like the first day of school after a long summer break. Our last in person QIC was 16 months ago, and caught between the naïve elation that COVID19 was abating, and the reality that the Delta variant was emerging as a new threat. We persevered with masking, social distancing, and gallons of hand sanitizer, and all went home feeling nervous. After that, we buckled down and focused on making the most of the virtual environment. We learned together, and we can competently throw a tight online event now thank you very much.
However, it just is not the same. We went for it in the planning of this reunion event. We hosted “pre-con” events for the shelter crowd and the Neighborhood Partners. About that, do you know who our Neighborhood Partners are, and how they are distinct in our community? I will share just in case. The Network’s Neighborhood Partners are minority-based programs that have close community ties and relationships. These programs operate in geographic areas of high need and provide community and home based counseling and case management for youth and families. Started in 2004 to address the overrepresentation of minorities in the juvenile justice system, there are now ten programs located in the counties with the highest rate of arrests in the state. These programs are highly effective, with a 99% success rate in avoiding recidivism at 6 months following service completion. The following organizations are collectively known as the Neighborhood Partners, and now you know!
· Center for Family & Child Enrichment
· Thaise Educational and Exposure Tours (3 sites)
· Youth Advocate Programs
· Bethel Community Foundation
· Urban League of Palm Beach
· Prevention Central
· Nehemiah Educational & Economic Development Inc.
· Tampa Housing Authority
Bethel Community Foundation graciously hosted the Neighborhood Partners meeting while back at the hotel we held a vigorous debate and challenged the common adage that “the kids are tougher now.” The result was enlightening. Anchored by Team Captains Alvin Bentley (FKCS) and Patrick Minzie II (Hillsborough County) we teased out the conclusion that while the common elements of the human condition that bind us together have not changed; the circumstances, influences, diagnoses, and perspectives surrounding our work have radically changed over the last 20 years. A team of impartial (mostly) observers lead by Sarah Grimmig (Hillsborough County) peppered both teams with challenging questions that pushed us towards a better understanding of what we really mean when we say the kids have changed.
We kicked off the official QIC meeting with a re-branding that acknowledges the practical reality of what QIC is all about. Hosted by an ebullient Che Latchford, we revealed a long-held truth, that QIC is not a committee, it is a community, or as the crowd demanded it be spelled, a CommUnity.
The rest of the day we heard directly from our own subject matter experts in a Best Practice Bash (sounds more exciting!) focused on Outreach strategies, judicial engagement, and the Case Staffing and CINS Petition process. For all of you Star Wars fans out there, This is the way. There is no substitute for learning directly from our frontline experts. Expect this to be a staple of future QICs.
We wrapped up the day with a tour of the Family Resources Safe Place 2B North (Clearwater) shelter. It was a master class in youth participation as the clients served ice cream and snacks, and led tours of the program. We loaded back onto our tour bus with full hearts and stomachs.
What happens in the halls of QIC, and the downtime after the meetings is the secret in the sauce. Maybe you joined the round table of all-stars in the lobby for dinner, or found some peace and quiet on the beach. You might have even sang some karaoke, but that is not my place to say. Whatever you did, we hope you got what you needed.
Speaking for all of us on the Florida Network staff, it was everything we hoped it would be. We will see you at the next one!”
-John Robertson, Director of Membership Services