In 2013, PSF celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its existence, and what an exciting time to celebrate 10 years. Over the previous 10 years, PSF has seen a record number of adoptions and drastically changed the way we work with families.
A few facts to celebrate
- More than 50,000 children have been served through protective supervision, out-of-home care or prevention services
- More than 1,400 adoptions have been finalized since PSF began providing child welfare services
- PSF has reduced the number of children in foster care by 46% since 2009
At the end of 2012, PSF board members and senior staff met with community leaders and key stakeholders to better understand the public’s perception of our system’s strengths and areas of weakness. The goal was for board members to personally interview these individuals and gain valuable feedback to direct the organization’s future strategic planning.
In all, 31 interviews were conducted. The Board of Directors met in November for their annual retreat and used this information to formulate goals for calendar years 2013-2015.
The Strategic Plan can be divided into three main categories or priorities as seen below. This information will be reviewed regular and will coincide with an Operating Plan to direct our activities surrounding these goals.
Priority One: Mission Effectiveness
Goal 1: Improvement placement capacity for foster children in the local community by increasing number of Partner Families in our network.
Goal 2: Prevent child abuse and neglect by promoting cost-effective and research-based prevention and intervention programs that are focused on the 0-5 age population.
Priority Two: Building and Sustaining Community Partnerships
Goal 3: Increase presence and outreach to PSF’s rural service areas.
Goal 4: Increase community engagement by raising public awareness and visibility of PSF beyond immediate system stakeholders.
Goal 5: Create formal and informal partnerships with other entities that serve a population similar to PSF’s.
Priority Three: Sustainability
Goal 6: Continue primary DCF contract in good standing by offering best value and through advocacy and strong partnerships.
Goal 7: Ensure sufficient funding to meet community need through government advocacy, fundraising and grants.
Goal 8: Diversify PSF funding so that 25% of total budget is from sources other than current CBC contract within 5 years.
Part of our 10-year celebration includes the development of a new Strategic Plan, The development of the Strategic Plan has focused heavily on areas in which PSF can grow to better meet the needs of individuals in our care, community partners and providers.
Board members and senior staff recently conducted a series of community interviews with individuals and organizations across our 13 counties to gain feedback regarding their perceptions of PSF, how our agency is doing and how our agency can improve. The feedback from these interviews has been weighed heavily during the creation of the new Strategic Plan.
These interviews also brought to light a need to strengthen PSF’s presence and local connections in some of our outlying service areas. Our 10-year history shows our commitment to building and reinforcing our partnerships with child welfare stakeholders, but we know we can do more. In an effort to establish new partnerships and build upon our existing ones, PSF will begin working with an Outreach and System of Care Consultant.
While PSF is excited about this new venture, we know that it is just the start. PSF is dedicated to serving our community to the best of our ability, and this commitment demands growth. Our 10-year anniversary gives us the chance to see where we have been, but more importantly where we are going. Our new Strategic Plan will reflect this focus as we continue to look toward the future and work to improve the lives of the children and families in our care.
In keeping with the goals established in our new Strategic Plan, PSF has established five Children’s Partnership Councils to further engage community partners in our outlying areas. Councils have been initially established in Perry, Live Oak, Lake City, Trenton and Starke and are made up of community leaders and representatives from community agencies, civic groups and businesses that share our goal of serving at-risk youth and their families.
Councils will meet as often as they choose, but at least four times each year. During the first meetings, council members addressed the ultimate goals in their establishment. Throughout the year, councils will review the data specific to their counties, identify additional community partners that can impact our system of care and create workgroups to address pressing issues that impact the children and families in our care. PSF also hopes to identify individuals interested in serving on PSF’s Board of Directors in order to ensure the engagement of our rural communities.
At PSF, we hold strongly to the idea that to strengthen communities, families and, most importantly, our children, we need to reach out to those in need before they become cases. This idea has been the motivator behind the opening of the Library Partnership, the SWAG Family Resource Center and the Cone Park Library Resource Center, which opened in late 2013. For us, the evidence for the resource centers’ success is seen clearly in the lives of those who enter the resource center seeking services and exit the resource center able to provide for their families and eager to give back to others in need.
For years, PSF has also researched the opportunity to establish resource centers in our outlying areas, especially Columbia County and the Tri-County area of Gilchrist, Levy and Dixie County. Recently the communities of Madison and Taylor have also been explored. There is a critical need in the these areas for resources that are readily available in Gainesville, and thanks to the establishment of some new community partnerships, a resource center in one of our more rural areas is now on the horizon.
Our experience has shown us that the resource center model is the way of the future for child welfare. Since the Library Partnership opened its doors in 2009, we have witnessed a 76% decrease in the number of children entering out-of-home care, compared with an overall 46% decrease in PSF’s coverage area. We are confident that this same success can be achieved through the establishment of new resources centers and we look forward to bringing much needed resources to our outlying communities.