Last Saturday the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth held a listening and learning tour session in Broward and Miami-Dade counties in Florida. The purpose of the session was to gain a better understanding of Florida’s state and local child welfare system.
Florida’s child welfare system was redesigned in 2001 to reflect a community-based care model. The new community-based care system combines the outsourcing of foster care and related services to private agencies to promote a sense of increased local community ownership of service delivery and design. Under the new initiative, Florida’s Department of Children and Families negotiates and contracts with local non-profit agencies to provide services to children, who have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned in their community. All of Florida’s 67 counties participate and operate under this model, which is designed to increase accountability, resource development and system performance.
The bipartisan Caucus was formed last year to create an ongoing discussion among Members of the House, who are interested in improving policies that affect the lives of youth and families involved with the foster care system. The Caucus tasked themselves with a national “listening tour” to gain insight into the challenges and barriers that exist around safety, permanency, well-being, education, and youth and family engagement. The Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth has over forty Congressional representatives and is chaired by Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN).