Children’s Trust will strive for community engagement

As the new president of The Children’s Trust, I am privileged to assume leadership of an organization that has done superlative job over the past decade of fostering awareness for the importance of quality services and for setting a paradigm for prevention and promotion.

While I have some exciting ideas in mind, I assure you that belief in and support for the core of our efforts will not waver. We will continue to prioritize funding for high quality after-school programs, early childhood education and the professionalization of the childcare industry and an array of health services for children that support their overall well-being. We will continue to focus on reaching — as early as possible — those many children in our community who lack the support and services they need to grow up healthy and successful.

We will continue to foster reading and literacy, the fundamentals of physical fitness, and the development of social skills — good decision-making, fair play and responsible behaviors — in the programs and initiatives we fund. We will continue to offer programs that support parents to become the best teachers they can be for their children, and to offer services that support children of all abilities.

We will not lose sight of the fact that every child, regardless of race, creed, gender, socio-economic status or sexual orientation, could be a future diplomat who contributes to peace in the Middle East, or the scientist who discovers a cure for cancer, or a prima ballerina destined to climb the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center.

Yet one area that I am particularly interested in expanding in the coming years is community engagement. Our research and experience provide a sound idea of which programs, curricula and approaches are working best in our community and around the country. That said, we are open to innovative ideas — and to learning and knowing more from others who may identify gaps and envision alternative remedies.

When my career transitioned from the private practice of law to public service, I sensed that most people working within the field of social services segregated themselves — I’m in mental health, or I do parenting — not so much connecting across disciplines. But we have evolved and matured to understand that our work crosses over many areas like a web, and the urgency to network collectively is ever greater.

Nobody ever said that collaboration was easy. It is much easier to function day to day in isolation, but not necessarily more effectively or efficiently; and, in our line of work when we keep our blinders on, children and families suffer the consequences.

To continue fostering collaboration at the neighborhood level, this past year we invested an additional $400,000, for a total of $8.7 million, to expand place-based service partnerships. These kinds of programs are increasingly recognized nationally for effectually creating the seamless network of care at-risk families need to address the challenges they face, including poverty, chronic school absence, child abuse and neglect, youth violence, substance abuse, mental-health issues, as well as a lack of access to medical coverage.

We will further examine our current investments in the coming year and engage our board of directors, organizations we fund and those we don’t, in addition to other government agencies and grant makers to determine if we are on the right course and if any adjustments should be made.

Miami-Dade is a diverse and complex place. The challenges in our communities must be faced together. The Trust looks forward, this year and for the years to come, to steward that sense of partnership and collective responsibility. We have the potential to help more people do more good, and we look forward to fulfilling that role to the best of our ability.

Charles M. Auslander was named CEO/president of The Children’s Trust in September.

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