MELBOURNE, Fla. – June 3, 2014 – Brevard Family Partnership’s CEO has been at the helm of the county’s lead child welfare agency since it was formed in 2004. On May 24, Dr. Patricia Nellius, the longest-serving chief executive of any single community based care agency in Florida celebrated her ten-year anniversary.
Under her leadership, Brevard has successfully transformed its local child welfare system into a national model recognized for its innovations, excellence and positive outcomes. “Dr. Nellius has done outstanding work building and managing a very successful system of care here on the Space Coast,” said Brevard County Manager and Brevard Family Partnership board chair, Stockton Whitten. “Under her leadership, thousands of children have been kept safe from abuse and neglect and BFP has become a model of care, recognized for its innovations in programs and services both here in Florida and nationwide.”
Nellius has served in the human service sector for over 25 years with specific focus on system reform. Out of a deep desire to impact change and improve the quality of life for vulnerable children and families, she worked her way up from field work to administration. Throughout her career she has worked with virtually every type of child and family serving agency, including departments of Juvenile Justice, Developmental Disabilities, Education, Child Welfare, Substance Abuse and Mental Health, and Medicaid. An often sought-after consultant and speaker, Nellius provides technical assistance to federal, state and county governments, and non-profit agencies.
Nellius was selected by a team of community leaders who developed the outline for Brevard’s child welfare system of care following Florida’s privatization of its state-run child welfare system. At the time, she was serving as the Senior Executive of Child and Family Services at Brockton Area Multi Services Inc. in Brockton, Massachusetts where she managed a full continuum of community based and residential services, along with three lead agency contracts. She arrived in Florida with little knowledge of the Brevard community but with a wealth of knowledge in system reform and systems of care, as well as a reputation of developing innovative programs for vulnerable populations.
A passionate, civic-minded advocate who has served on the boards of numerous local, state, and national organizations, Nellius’ service includes the National Wraparound Initiative Core Advisory Council at the University of Portland, Oregon. She was a member of former Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s Child Abuse Prevention and Permanency Advisory Council and co-chair of the Governor’s Faith Based Initiative. She has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Florida Coalition for Children, and Promise in Brevard.
Under former Gov. Jeb Bush, Nellius received commendation for her role in establishing the IV-E Waiver pilot in Florida. Since its inception, the waiver has leveraged tens of millions of dollars in federal funding for child abuse prevention and family preservation programs designed to mitigate the crisis in families that often lead to child abuse, neglect or abandonment, and keep families from being involved in the judicial dependency system. She utilized IV-E funding to help Brevard reduce the number of children in the formal dependency system at any time by almost 50%, from a high of over 1,500 to less than 850 today. Under DCF Secretary Luci Hadi, Nellius also played a key role in the development and procurement of Florida’s first Center for the Advancement of Child Welfare Practice – now known as Florida’s Center for Child Welfare – at the University of South Florida.
Through her leadership, Brevard Family Partnership – and its abuse prevention and family preservation subsidiary Brevard C.A.R.E.S. – have been recognized throughout the country for developing innovative programs and services that help to reduce the incidences of child abuse and keep families safely in their homes and communities. Undergoing credentialing as an evidence based practice program, Brevard C.A.R.E.S. was recently selected to be the sole provider of Wraparound training, the core of the Brevard C.A.R.E.S. model, to CBC agencies throughout the state of Florida.
Dr. Nellius’ has received several awards and recognition for her work in protecting children and strengthening families including being named one of the most influential business leaders by Spacecoast Business magazine. She was selected as Administrator of the Year in 2007 by the Florida Coalition for Children and received Brevard’s Child Abuse Prevention Leadership award in 2008 from the Child Abuse Prevention Task Force of Brevard County. In 2012 Nellius was honored as one of Brevard’s Children’s Heroes by Eckerd and she recently received the “Distinguished Service” Award from the Florida Coalition for Children for her local, state, and national System of Care efforts.
Nellius holds a Masters and Doctorate in Counseling and recently completed the Multisystem Integration Certificate program at Georgetown University. She is married to her husband Roger Guthrie and has four children and one grandchild.