While the Dec. 28 article, Nonprofit with state contracts pays its top exec $1.2M, concerning the pay of our CEO, William Schossler, was certainly factual, our board felt there was some critical information absent from the story that should be shared with your readers to appreciate the total picture.
The CEO’s pay and benefits cited in the article reflect 25 years of service, not just the two years referenced. Perhaps the board could have handled this differently, and spread the compensation over more years to reduce the yearly pay-out, but the fact is, everything we did was legal and appropriate and consistent with industry standards. Funding didn’t come just from state juvenile justice contracts, as the foundation also serves adults and provides other non-Department of Juvenile Justice services on a contractual basis.
Secretary Wansley Walters’ comments would suggest that direct services to youth and their families were compromised. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of our state-funded programs are assigned contract monitors who conduct onsite reviews on a regular basis. Every program is subject to an annual quality assurance review and a number of our programs have achieved the highest scores in the state of Florida. Independent fiscal audits are completed every year and all of our programs are nationally accredited by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). Literally thousands of youths and their families have been served by the foundation over the past 25 years. The quality of those efforts has been recognized statewide, nationally and, in the case of our Multi-Systemic Therapy programs, internationally. I might also add that all of our DJJ contracts were competitively bid and awarded.
Make no mistake about it, the secretary’s plan to end community-based contracts is a clear attempt to save state jobs at the expense of private sector jobs.
The private sector in juvenile justice has historically performed as well or better than state employees at less cost, not more. Currently we handle more seriously delinquent youth than state juvenile probation officers and we serve a much higher percentage of African-American youth than the state has over the past five years.
Our organization took the secretary at her word that she wanted honest feedback about her proposed “Roadmap” during her highly choreographed town hall meetings. We provided that feedback. This is the result.
The foundation stands by its long-term commitment in Florida to make a positive difference in people’s lives, regardless of who is the DJJ secretary and his or her motives.
Horace Moody, Board of Directors Treasurer and Ashley Nevels, vice president of administration/CFO, The Henry and Rilla White Youth Foundation, Inc., Tallahassee