CEO Message August 7, 2020
Maintaining System Stability amid COVID-19
As we all know all too well, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been extensive for our state and our country. Now many of us are faced with the reality that we are looking squarely in the face of budget reductions. Florida is a state whose economy is driven by our sales tax foundations and much of our state funding comes from that foundation, however, that sales tax foundation is directly impacted by our tourism numbers. Now, we’re the subject of a significant drop in tourism and sales tax revenue as a result of COVID-19.
This means the governor, legislature and state revenue estimators have recommended a 6 percent budget reduction this year and as much as 8 percent reduction for FY 2021-’22. While we are certainly concerned about the potential impact on our system of care, as I noted in a recent Miami Herald interview regarding the potential cuts.
The Department of Children and Families has been tight on cash for years, having never recovered from cuts made in the aftermath of the Great Recession 12 years ago.
“We’re in a hole and we’re going to have to dig a little deeper in the hole,” said Kurt Kelly, CEO and president of the Florida Coalition of Children. Kelly, a former lawmaker, took office after a 2007 special election — just as the state began to grapple with the recession. “This is more than an exercise. This is a reality check.
Kelly, whose organization oversees group homes, foster care, adoption services and various in-home support programs, said a 3% budget cut for child welfare services would equal about $15 million. A 6% cut, or $30 million, would be “devastating,” he said. He hopes the department looks inward at agency-level cuts before going to the community partners.
That’s why the Coalition is carefully monitoring these budget exercises and taking a very meticulous and cautious look at any proposed reductions. We are also continuing to work closely with leadership at the Department of Children and Families to ensure we are communicating about the needed resources to continue protecting children and families. Also, so that any potential cuts don’t limit our ability to do that or threaten the health, safety and well-being of your workforce or the children and families we serve in communities throughout the state.
Committed to Collaboration
This week we were able to convene, for the first time in a while, our FCC Large Group of FCC member agencies for a meeting with DCF leadership this week and had a robust discussion with Secretary Poppell, who also invited Florida’s Surgeon General, Dr. Scott A. Rivkees, to join us and provide a briefing on the state of the coronavirus response in our state, steps everyone should be continuing to take to protect themselves and access to testing, including instant response tests. It was a healthy discussion, and it allowed FCC member agency leaders to share firsthand how the virus is impacting their communities and some of the ongoing needs and concerns of our #communityofcare and how we are able to serve those in our care.
The Secretary also discussed the budget and the importance of the partnership between DCF and our community-based providers. He shared his commitment to continue being a collaborative and transparent partner as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times.
Virtual Trainings & Annual Awards Celebration
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of our child welfare community and those we serve is the FCC’s utmost priority, the Florida Coalition for Children Foundation Board of Directors unanimously decided to cancel the in-person 2020 FCC Annual Conference. However, knowing that the trainings and celebrations offered during our annual conference are so important to our community of care each year, we have just made them virtual!
These virtual training sessions are part of the Coalition’s new and growing virtual Learning Community. We are so grateful to our generous title sponsor, Sunshine Health and supporting sponsors the Selfless Love Foundation and Casey Family Programs, which have allowed us to continue this year’s training virtually. We hosted our second session on Thursday August 6, Examining the Relationship Between Childhood Trauma and Symptoms of ADHD, presented by Sunshine Health’s Chad R. Sedam, Ph.D. We are happy to report it was a great success with nearly 50 attendees who will receive continuing education units for their participation.
For the remainder of 2020, FCC will host these virtual training opportunities with the 90-minute sessions featuring presenters from across our continuum of care and highlighting a variety of child well-being topics. To register for the sessions visit conference.flchildren.org and click the “register now” link under each session.
Participants will receive login information for each session 48 hours prior to the session start time. Questions? Please contact [email protected].
I’m also happy to report we will still be able to celebrate the many “helpers” from throughout our system of care who have stepped up even more amidst COVID-19 to support their communities and children and families with a virtual version of our annual awards celebration on August 17 at 7:00 p.m. We have been working hard to produce a video highlighting all the honorees from around Florida and we look forward to you joining us virtually on FCC’s social media platforms — and hosting some watch parties of your own for that event!
In this Together
Finally, besides all normal talk about, the Coalition realizes the challenges this unprecedented public health crisis has created — we have had members experience some of their own personal and family health challenges and tragedies and impacts of the coronavirus. Work schedules have been disrupted, we’ve had to innovate and adapt to how we communicate and deliver services. Amid this stress and disruption, there are additional stressors and scrutiny of your agencies’ services and programs. Please remember the Coalition is here to support you and we cherish the opportunity to provide guidance and support to our member agencies in any number of ways, not just in response to COVID-19.