July 1, 2013 – Brevard Family Partnership has completed negotiations with the Florida Department of Children and Families and has received a new, five-year contract to manage the child welfare system of care in Brevard County. Signed with just days before its FY 2013 contract was to expire, BFP can now negotiate and execute ongoing leases and secure contracted child welfare services, purchase necessary insurance, and perform other fiduciary responsibilities it has as the county’s lead agency for child welfare.

With a budget of approximately $21million per year, the community based care agency is responsible for managing child abuse prevention and family preservation programs, as well as foster care services and public adoptions for children removed from their homes, either temporarily or permanently, and an Independent Living program for youth and young adults who may leave or have left the foster care system after turning 18 years old. It engages over 70 community partners and providers to perform these services and operate the associated programs that support them.

BFP assumed it was receiving its contract as early as February of this year after what were deemed “successful” negotiations regarding performance, outcomes and investments, as well as several aspects of the contract to which BFP originally objected were ironed out with a DCF-appointed negotiating team. Progress later stalled when BFP and DCF could not come to agreement on language within an un-negotiated attachment to its contract that BFP and its peer agencies collectively agreed would limit the CBC Lead Agencies’ ability to operate an independent, locally-developed and managed system of care that represented the spirit and intent of Florida’s Community Based Care legislation.

“We’re pleased that DCF understood the sensitivity of any major changes to our local system of care that could jeopardize the safety of children or cause more families to suffer the stressors that may lead to child abuse,” said BFP’s CEO, Dr. Patricia Nellius. “We believe this agreement will allow us to continue to develop and implement best practices that keep more children out of the formal dependency system and more families safely in their homes, schools and communities. We look forward to working with the department going forward to continuously improve our system of care and hope they will adequately fund needed services, as Florida statutes dictate.”

BFP’s system of care, established by the Space Coast community at the inception of privatization, has resulted in lowering the number of Brevard’s children in the formal judicial system by almost 50% and has facilitated 600 adoptions since its inception in 2005. BFP serves an average of 2,000 children and their families per month and has never turned away a child or family needing services, despite over $1.6 million in budget reductions over the last three fiscal years which, it states, is due to an imposed but flawed state “equity” model that determines each CBC’s annual funding.

The new contract will extend through June 30, 2018. At that time BFP may be awarded an additional, one-time, five-year contract extension before it must again competitively bid to retain its place as Brevard County’s lead agency.