DCF Secretary David Wilkins blogs about his recent visit to Children’s Home Society
There was a 9-year-old they told me about, a young girl. She was a straight “A” student at school, but her report card noted she wasn’t participating in anything after school, like sports or music. So we sat down with her foster family to find out what was up – was it a transportation issue? Was the girl having trouble at home? Everyone in the girl’s life, from her foster parent and teachers to case manager and tutors is included in the report card so that everyone comes together to make sure all aspects of the young girl’s life are on track.
This is just one story I heard when I recently stopped by Children’s Home Society in Tallahassee. Every foster child in Florida now has a report card like this. We want them to succeed in EVERY part of their lives, and hold everyone accountable for their success.
CHS also told me about some technology that is unique to their area – remote data capture. This means that they can use their BlackBerry to do pretty much anything on-the-move that they would normally do at a desk, like putting notes in a foster child’s file or checking the statewide database. They reported having some issues with connections in rural areas, but it sounds like they are working through the kinks and having some good results.
Before my wife and I left CHS, we stopped by its Treehouse, an emergency shelter for foster kids ages 2 – 11. This is a safe place staffed 24 hours a day where kids can go before they are placed with a foster family. We visited after school hours, so we sat with the kids and helped them with their homework a bit. It has been a long time since I’ve helped kids with their spelling words – my daughters are already grown – but it came back quickly and it was nice to connect with the kids.
I was glad to be able to visit and talk to our case managers. They work all hours of the day and night to protect our children. But these are just a few of the conversations I had while at CHS; I’ll be sharing more soon.