Brevard Family Partnership, Brevard County’s lead child welfare agency has achieved a milestone, marking its fifth anniversary of protecting children and strengthening families.
On January 30, 2005, the State of Florida Department of Children and Families initiated its first contract with what was then Community Based Care of Brevard. The agency was established in 2003, through a mandate by the Florida legislature to privatize child welfare throughout the state.
Among its many accomplishments during this time, the agency -working with over 70 community partners and service providers– has reduced the number of children in foster or dependency care in the county by almost half, from a high of over 1,500 in 2005 to just over 700 today.
“When we began serving the children and families of Brevard in 2005, the community, through Together in Partnership and the Leadership Roundtable Alliance established the chief priorities for Brevard’s vulnerable children and families,” said BFP CEO, Dr. Patricia Nellius-Guthrie. “These included a shift to family-centered practice; an aggressive front-end abuse prevention and diversion program; caseloads that remain below a ratio of one case manager to 20 clients; national accreditation; and, the implementation of a 24/7 mobile response team, all of which have been achieved in the five years we’ve been in operation.”
“Now, we are embarking upon a service delivery system that is evidence-based and shows promising practices,” said Dr. Nellius. “Through strong partnerships with our foster and adoptive parents, relative caregivers, case management agencies and providers, we have been able to greatly improve the quality of life for those entrusted to our care.
Upon her arrival in Brevard County nearly six years ago, Dr. Nellius shared the vision of eradicating child abuse in Brevard County by setting the target of reducing the incidence of child abuse by one-third in five years. Under her leadership, Brevard Family Partnership has exceeded that target by reducing incidences by more than fifty percent.
This remarkable progress is attributed to the agency’s innovative system of care, including its signature child abuse prevention program, Brevard C.A.R.E.S. (Coordination, Advocacy, Resources, Education and Support). Employing a unique, wraparound, family-centered and strength-based approach the Brevard C.A.R.E.S. program has resulted in a substantial reduction of children and families entering the dependency system and is gaining national attention from agencies and organizations that wish to replicate that success.
Since its inception, Brevard Family Partnership has consistently ranked among the top-performing community based care agencies in the state of Florida and is among the top three agencies in the number of visits to children and families; the timely reunification of children with their families; and, is exceeding the federal measures for placement stability. It also is recognized for having among the lowest case worker turnover rate in the nation.
BFP also oversees the contracts of and distributes state and federal funds to local agencies and organizations that provide or manage, foster care, adoptions, independent living programs for youth who age out of foster care and community outreach services for children and families.
The partners voluntarily assumed responsibility for the health, welfare and safety of at-risk children and families in Brevard County. The CBC philosophy empowers and challenges neighborhoods and local communities to take ownership of their community by assisting children and families.
The community based care initiative in Brevard County has its roots in the collaborative effort of community partnerships including Together in Partnership, the Leadership Roundtable Alliance, Brevard County Government, Devereux Florida, and Children’s Home Society. These agencies worked together for four years, prior to implementation, to increase prevention and early intervention services with the purpose of strengthening and preserving the integrity of the family while protecting the children.