In honor of National Make a Difference for Children month, we would like to recognize those among us who go above and beyond each and every day to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Brevard’s children.
We have highlighted a few of the many outstanding child advocates in our community who tirelessly invest in our children and families. Thank you for being an integral part of Brevard’s System of Care.
Jamie and William Russell: Foster and soon to be adoptive parents
In addition to caring for children, Mrs. Russell recently started a nonprofit that is near and dear to her; #Bethatfamily. #Bethatfamily provides backpacks with essential needs to children that are removed from their home and placed in foster care. To date, they have donated over 100 backpacks. #Bethatfamily has also provided clothing and other necessities to Brevard’s foster parents in order to meet the needs of children placed in their homes. Jamie and William Russell were recently awarded the CAPTF “Caregiver” award for their outstanding work inadvocating for the children in our care. In her spare time, Jamie also serves as a member of the BFP Foster Parent Advisory Committee.
Jamie and William Russell have been foster parents since March 2015. They have four children of their own and continue to share the love of family by opening their home to children in need. They are dedicated to serving our communities most vulnerable children. The Russell’s are passionate about raising awareness of the need for more foster care homes in Brevard. They are not only outstanding foster parents, but soon to be adoptive parents as well.
Mr. Subia has been a foster parent in Florida since 2012 and was previously a foster parent in Connecticut. His fiancé, Addison LeBedz, joined Mr. Subia in fostering in 2014. Mr. Subia has two adopted sons and is considering the prospect of adopting more children. Tony and Addison are passionate about knowing the children in their care are happy and involved in positive life experiences. Mr. Subia is a strong advocate for children. Tony is a member of the BFP Foster Parent Advisory Committee and the lead of Brevard Family Partnership’s Foster Parent Mentoring Program. It is important to Tony and Addison to play a role in maintaining sibling connections by taking sibling groups into their family. Mr. Subia and Mr. LeBedz are wonderful assets to our community and have made a meaningful difference in the lives of many children.
Milton and Gloria Mazariegos: Foster Parents and Faith Leaders
Mr. and Mrs. Mazariegos have been foster parents for two years. Milton and Gloria have not only been amazing foster parents, but they have adopted three children who were placed in their home. They lead the Foster Parent Support Group Meetings and Gloria is a committee member of #Bethatfamily. They also are driven to ensure each child placed in their home has a sense of belonging and, as a family, are making a difference in the lives of those in need of hope and healing. Milton and Gloria recently were selected to be mentors for new foster parents.
Raymond and Bonnie Ferguson: Foster Parents
Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson are in their second year of fostering. Shortly after becoming licensed, Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson accepted placement of a sibling group. When they initally accepted placement, there were no known special needs of the children, but it was soon apparent that two of the children were in need of medical care. After many doctor’s appointments and tests, it was determined the children had complex medical needs. Although they were not prepared for the particular needs of the children, the Fergusons remained committed and continued to provide the best care possible. The Fergusons are extremely strong advocates for children. Mrs. Ferguson attends every appointment for the medically fragile child in her care and stays at the hospital with her, never leaving her side. Mr. Ferguson makes it possible for Mrs. Ferguson to be away by maintaining the home and the caring for the other children in her absence. The Ferguson’s are also a Medical Foster Care Home.
Brooke is a woman who needs no introduction. She is a tireless advocate for Brevard’s children. She has served on the BFP Board of Directors for seven years. Ms. Goldfarb served as a volunteer with the Brevard County Guardian Ad Litem program and as the Justice Teacher for Indialantic Elementary. She has also served as a member of the Boys and Girls Club Board, a member of Zonta, Sally’s Friends, the Women’s Center Guild and the Henegar Center for the Arts Board. Brooke now serves as the Client Enrollment Manager, Brevard County for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida.
Marie has been an active member of the Brevard Youth Thrive Steering Committee since inception. She was instrumental in providing children with duffle bags so they would never have to leave home with their possessions in a garbage bag. Marie and one of her youth are very involved with the Brevard Youth Advisory Council. She drives her youth to meetings so he can share his ideas on how to help other children in foster care. Marie is an exemplary community volunteer who always goes above and beyond to make a difference in a child’s life.
Marie Fraser has been a volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program since November 15, 2004. Marie worked at Miami-Dade College prior to retiring and moving to Brevard County. She is a strong advocate and consistently represents ten or more children as a GAL. When Marie is assigned a case, she always goes above and beyond. When children move out of county, Marie travels to visit them, asshe understands a familiar face can make a world of difference for children who have already lost so much. Marie represents children’s best interests in court with knowledge and passion. Marie never gives up.
Candice Howell, IMPOWER Senior Case Manager
Candice is known for her strong work ethic. She always presents herself in a professional manner during court proceedings and internal staffings; she ensures all visits, and dental and medical screenings of children in her care occur timely. Candice exhibits strong management skills and is very dependable, which is demonstrated by her willingness to step in and assist her peers whenever she is needed.
Candice is a compassionate and responsive social worker dedicated to the children she serves.
Pam Washington, IMPOWER Supervisor
Pam has provided consistent, strength-based leadership for case management for many years. Her commitment to the children and families of Brevard County is evidenced by the long hours she works and her willingness to pitch in whenever the need arises. Pam models the values of the local System of Care for her employees and is an excellent coach and teacher. Because of Pam, many lives have been changed.
Judge McKibben has a long and successful history as a passionate child advocateand has made a significant impact in the lives of Florida’s children and families throughout her career. For more than 20 years, Judge McKibben has dedicated her life to dependent children and their families.
Beginning in 1995, Judge McKibben served with DCF Child Welfare Legal Services, as an Attorney, Senior/supervising Attorney and Managing Attorney for District 7. She also served as Chief Legal Counsel/Deputy Chief Legal Counsel for District 7, Florida Department of Children and Families, in Orlando and Cocoa, from August 2003to December 2005. During her tenure with the DCF through to today, Judge McKibben is widely recognized as a tireless advocate for Florida’s vulnerable children and families. Judge McKibben also played a key leadership role in the privatization and transition of child welfare services to the CBC lead agencies in Central Florida.
Judge McKibben was appointed to the bench in 2005 by Gov. Jeb Bush and served as the County Court Judge, Eighteenth Judicial Circuit from 2006 to 2013. Judge Kelly McKibben currently serves as a Circuit Court Judge, Eighteenth Judicial Circuit where she has served from September 2013 to present.
Judge McKibben has been civically engaged in many child serving agencies including serving on the Board of Directors of Brevard Family Partnership for five years.
She has a longstanding history as an active community leader and spokesperson on behalf of Florida’s children and continually innovates and explores ways to improve the quality of life for children. Judge McKibben truly exemplifies the genuine qualities of a public servant.
Rebekah Pope, DCF Child Protective Investigator
Rebekah Pope has been working as an investigator for just over two years and was employed by the agency directly out of college in 2014. From the onset as a new investigator, Ms. Pope achieved her certification within six months of the allowed twelve month period. During case transfer staffings, Ms. Pope effectively communicates and demonstrates her knowledge of the case. When requested by service providers, prompt follow-up work is always completed in a timely manner. Recently, Ms. Pope was selected to handle the more difficult and high risk cases for the service center; a task which she readily accepted without hesitation and so far has been performing at an exceptional level.
Ms. Pope is truly an asset to the department of Children and Families and the Brevard child welfare System of Care.
Ashley Carraro is the Senior Director of Programs for Brevard Family Partnership (BFP), Brevard County’s lead agency for child welfare, where she has served since 2006. In October of 2012, BFP began the development of a system transformation project which entailed establishing a framework for the incorporation of trauma informed care (TIC) across the community of practice. The goal of this transformation initiative was to develop and foster broad community awareness and knowledge regarding the impact of trauma on children and families; and upon those who serve and care for them. Ashley was instrumental in the development of this program, “Brevard Youth Thrive”.
Under Ashley’s leadership, “Brevard Youth Thrive” has grown substantially and has achieved many impressive accomplishments.
Ashley is an innovative and creative leader who truly cares for and serves our children, youth and families with excellence. She has worked diligently to engage and include families in decision making and to implement and attain high fidelity wraparound. Ashley recently received the Florida Coalition for Children’s Social Worker of the Year award as evidence of her outstanding leadership and commitment to those we serve.