Re the Jan. 13 story After violent fight at a foster group home, Miami-Dade judge orders extra staffing: When children are rescued from violent environments, they rely upon organizations like Children’s Home Society of Florida for safety and security.
We take this responsibility extremely seriously.
In Miami-Dade, more than 250 employees serve 5,000 children and family members every year. Across Florida, our more than 2,000 employees help 60,000. They knock on doors in dangerous neighborhoods. They hold the hands of frightened 5-year-olds and walk through the pain of traumatized teenagers.
Locally, almost 80 youth find safety in our group homes at any given time. They must know they are safe. They must know we are committed to their well-being.
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Recently, however, an altercation occurred in one of these group homes. The incident is unacceptable and does not in any way represent the work our staff does each day.
Nor does it meet CHS standards and expectations.
We have zero tolerance for actions that compromise children’s safety. When errors in judgment affect child safety, people are held accountable. But we cannot let one person’s judgment error taint the extraordinary commitment of the thousands who serve daily to improve children’s lives.
For our employees, this is more than a job. It’s a calling.
We don’t talk enough about the lives they change. The lives they save. The futures they’ve created and the doors they’ve opened.
We’re heartened that Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, who sees our work regularly, commented from the bench that “CHS is an excellent agency.” As a father who raised two children after they spent time in group care, I understand the impact CHS’ programs can have. My personal commitment drives me to maintain a steady presence on the ground as I make unannounced visits to group homes, meeting with staff and speaking directly with youth.
We will not waver in our dedication to the children who need us.
Michael J. Shaver, president/CEO, Children’s Home Society of Florida,