Tanya Wilkins, statewide child advocate and wife of Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins, joined Eckerd Community Alternatives to unveil “Each One — Reach One,” a new parent recruitment campaign March 8, at the Florida Strawberry Festival.
The campaign will focus on reaching out to the ultimate “soccer moms and dads” — those who would care for and offer a child in foster care the same quality of life that they would offer their own biological child. If each one in the community helps us reach one new foster parent, our community’s most vulnerable children will be safe, loved and nurtured until they can safely return to their parents’ home or be adopted into a forever family. A new website, FosteringTampaBay.org, will launch as part of the campaign.
One year after David Wilkins unveiled an initiative called “Fostering Florida’s Future” and six months after he issued a statewide call for “1,200 new foster parents in 12 months,” Tampa Bay leads the state in the number of newly licensed foster homes — 161 so far this year — under Eckerd as the lead agency for community-based foster care services in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.
However, more foster homes are needed to keep up with the increase in children removed from their parents’ homes because of abuse and neglect.
“We’re excited to unveil this brand new campaign which we believe will energize our recruitment efforts in Tampa Bay,” said Executive Director Lorita Shirley, who oversees foster care services for Eckerd in Hillsborough County. “If each one in the community helps us reach one new foster parent, our community’s most vulnerable children will have the safe, loving homes they deserve. We’ll be able to ensure the right home for the right child — not just an open bed — and we’ll have enough capacity to ensure brothers and sisters can stay together in one home.”
Eckerd Community Alternatives, as contracted by the Florida Department of Children and Families, is the community-based care lead agency for child welfare and foster care services in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties), serving nearly 7,000 children and their families each day. To learn more, visit EckerdCBC.org or FosteringTampaBay.org.