We are excited to announce that Kirk A. Brown will begin as the Department of Children and Families Extended Foster Care Director on April 11. Upon his arrival, we want to share the inspiring story of how he got here:
Kirk Brown is passionate about helping kids get out of poverty and move their lives toward an educated future. Currently as Senior Vice President of Programs and Business and Development at HANDY (Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth) Inc. in Broward County, Brown encourages youth in foster care to graduate high school and move onto higher education programs. As DCF’s Extended Foster Care Director, he will guide youth as they transition into adulthood from the foster care system.
Brown grew up in a chaotic situation, and like many of the youth he helps, he had no original intentions to receive a college education. When he was 16 he moved from Jamaica to America and attended high school. Lacking a support system and the encouragement to strive for a higher education, Brown remembers feeling lost and faithless in the world. It wasn’t until he met his high school pre-law teacher that his story completely changed. “She gave me the most self-esteem I had ever received in my life,” said Kirk, “She said I could change the world.” His teacher acted as Brown’s first mentor in his life, giving him information on how to apply to college, receive financial aid and even helped him experience his first mock trial, which inspired Brown to pursue law school.
From then on, Kirk Brown’s future brightened. He not only graduated high school with outstanding grades, but went onto earn two undergraduate degrees at the Florida Atlantic University. After graduating in 1998, his schooling continued, as he now holds a Masters in Social Work degree from Barry University.
His inspiration to go into social work sparked one day when he was driving down Atlantic Boulevard and spotted the spitting image of his 16 year-old self. “It pulled on my heartstrings,” Kirk said, “I remembered being just like that kid, lost and hopeless, and that’s when it all connected for me. He even had on a Coca-Cola shirt just like one I had in Jamaica.” After picking him up and taking the boy to McDonalds Brown realized he couldn’t possibly leave him on the street. “I asked around, ‘Who fixes this problem?’ and I was told DCF.” Shortly after, Brown applied to the Department of Children and Families so he could fix situations like the lost kid he saw.
Kirk Brown’s first position at DCF was as a Family Services Counselor Supervisor. Through DCF and HANDY, Kirk has already improved so many young Floridian’s futures. Now back at the department, we are eager to experience the great work he will continue to do in the lives of our community’s youth.