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DJJ, DCF, DOC and Partners Host Fifth Annual National Faith Symposium, ‘Our Children, Our Future: Strengthening Families and Communities Through Faith’

CONTACT:

Department of Juvenile Justice
Heather DiGiacomo

heather.digiacomo@djj.state.fl.us

(850) 717-2710

Department of Children and Families

DCF Press Office

(850) 413-0771


DJJ, DCF, DOC and Partners Host Fifth Annual National Faith Symposium, ‘Our Children, Our Future: Strengthening Families and Communities Through Faith’

Orlando, Fla. — The National Faith Symposium, “Our Children, Our Future: Strengthening Families and Communities Through Faith,” one of the largest gatherings of faith and community leaders in Florida, is taking place this week at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando. This event is being held in collaboration with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council.

The two-day event is bringing together faith leaders from around the country to listen to inspiring speakers, including Antwone Fisher and the Honorable Judge Glenda Hatchett. It also provides an opportunity for those in attendance to share ideas and best practices of integrating faith-based organizations into the work they already do to help at-risk and delinquent children and youth, as well as their families.

Department of Juvenile Justice Interim Secretary Christina Daly said, “While there are many faiths represented at this gathering, we are united together because we all believe in giving our children hope. The faith community’s role in reaching at-risk youth is significant, whether it be serving as mentors or providing opportunities for youth to participate in giving back to their local communities. Our agencies greatly depend upon and recognize the important roles faith partners play in every neighborhood of every city in this state.”

“Our state’s faith-based and community organizations change lives every day in countless ways and are powerful partners in strengthening families and protecting children,” said DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll. “This symposium is an important opportunity to share information and best practices, and it is a means to renew our faith in the good we can achieve working together.”

Deputy Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections Tim Cannon shared, “We are excited to collaborate with the Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Children and Families and the faith community for one of the largest gatherings of faith and community leaders in Florida. This event is a testament of the Department’s commitment to our vision of changing lives to ensure a safer Florida.”

Among activities so far today, the Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council celebrated two outstanding faith-based and community-based organizations with “Champions of Hope” awards. These two organizations were recognized for their initiatives and innovations to improving outcomes in serving Florida’s at-risk youth, children in care and families in need. Northland, A Church Distributed and Miami’s River of Life were presented with Champions of Hope awards.

Northland, A Church Distributed, whose distributed service team is led by Dr. Gretchen Kerr and was nominated by the Florida Department of Children and Families, works to build collaborative relationships within the Central Florida community to serve people in need ranging from those transitioning from prison or jail to serving the needs of homeless families as well as participating in disaster response. Northland also assisted in the development of Resource Point, a collaborative for case management, data collection and community collaboration, and provides the knowledge of resources within the community.

Miami’s River of Life, led by Minister George Ellis and nominated by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, has been a refuge for many troubled youth providing various services including transitional living, temporary shelter and respite care for youth in the juvenile justice system for more than 21 years. Minister Ellis truly believes that many of the behavior problems exhibited by our youth today are due to “a broken spirit, caused by a lack of love.” Miami’s River of Life services focus on life skill development, pro-social skill development, family reunification and conflict resolution. Minister Ellis has been instrumental in working with community stakeholders to develop government, faith-based and community-based collaborations, which have had a deep and widespread impact.

“I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to all of the symposium attendees for the great work they provide to improve outcomes for children and families in our state,” said Zackary Gibson, Florida’s Chief Child Advocate. “Together, we can prevent children and families from coming into the system and for those who do, we can provide healing, hope and inspiration to enable them to become productive and self-sufficient.” 

The symposium, in addition to the keynote speakers and awards presentations, features workshops on empowering parents, youth engagement, foster care, engaging community in child welfare, and domestic child sex trafficking among other informative sessions.