Every hour of every day, a terrified child relies on the wisdom, decisions and dedication of a child welfare professional. That dedication is often what makes the difference.
The people who choose a career in child welfare work in a daunting field with incredible challenges, but they refuse to give up. They know vulnerable, hurting, frightened children depend on them. And so they persevere.
Though it is my honor to recognize and advocate for these professionals every day, I was especially happy to do so on May 11, which was Child Welfare Professionals Recognition Day, when the state pays tribute to Florida’s unsung heroes.
We must ask legislators to show their appreciation for child welfare professionals — and to demonstrate their concern for the victimized children these professionals serve — by prioritizing child welfare, particularly case management, when they reconvene for a special session next month.
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These individuals make life-and-death decisions almost every day. They are responsible for helping children and families overcome insurmountable challenges. And they’re responsible for 15, 25, sometimes 30 or 40 children at a time.
Though these professionals are hard working, committed and determined, their charge is nearly impossible — and we cannot let the special session pass without changing that.
Investing in this workforce is key to improving outcomes for children in foster care. It’s paramount that Florida’s budget includes a $15.7 million appropriation for child welfare, specifically earmarked for case-management activities.
It’s no longer an option — nearly 20,000 children are counting us.
Shelley Katz, CEO, Children’s Home Society of Florida, Miami