We create safe havens for children and 401 NW 2nd Avenue.

401 NW 2nd Avenue.
South Tower, 10th Floor
Miami, FL 33128
We create safe havens for children and
families through adoptions and foster care
About Us
Created in 2002, Our Kids is the non-profit lead agency for
Community Based Care (CBC) in Miami-Dade and Monroe
counties. Since May 2005, we have been providing foster care
and related services in Miami and the Florida Keys. These
services were previously performed by the Florida Department
of Children and Families.
Our Kids is proud of our unique Community Leadership Model.
The members of our diverse Board of Trustees were specifically
selected to represent the communities of Miami-Dade and
Monroe counties in the creation, development and oversight of
a privatized, local foster care system. Our Kids pioneered the
concept of maintaining a board of community leaders that are
completely divested and independent of our network of direct
service providers.
The mission of Our Kids is to oversee and lead a coordinated
system of care, delivering excellence to abused, abandoned and
neglected children and their families in Miami-Dade and
Monroe counties.
Our Kids vision is that at-risk children in Miami-Dade and
Monroe counties grow up in safe, permanent families.
Sample of Outcomes
Our Kids strives to provide the very best services to the
children and families we serve.
Reduction of children in Out of Home Care
Almost 40%
reduction in
Jun '06
Jun '07
Jun '08
July '09
June '10
June '11
Number of adoptions
Our Kids has finalized over
2000 adoptions since the
inception of Our Kids in 2005
FY 2007 FY 2008 FY 2009 FY 2010 FY 2011
Adoption Target
% of Children seen each month
Actual Adoptions
Our Kids
FY '05
FY '06
FY '07
FY '08
FY '09
FY '10
FY '11
Staff Training and Curriculum Development
Maintaining highly trained personnel is a critical piece in child welfare. This past year Our Kids
revamped it training by partnering with the Miami Police Department and Department of Children and
Families. In September, nearly two dozen new child welfare case managers and child
protective investigators completed a pioneering pre-service training and will begin ensuring the welfare
of thousands of children and families in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. This groundbreaking
program is the result of an ongoing initiative to deliver the most advanced training to current and future
protective investigators and case managers.
Continuing the Development Using Evidence Based Tools
This year Our Kids continued region-wide training in the use SDM (Structured Decision Making). CPIs,
CLS, Our Kids, our network of diversion and case management agencies use the tools to assess risk and
safety. The Quality Assurance team at Our Kids is also working with our partners to develop a more
structured and standardized home visit form.
Meeting Housing Needs for Transitioning Youth
Our Kids partnered with Citrus Health Network and provided 158 students housing and supportive
services; 64 students were provided housing and in home coaching services. Our Kids received more
than $100,000 in support from the HAND program for housing for our youth. Additionally we have
provided additional funding to Citrus and Lutheran Services to offer additional housing resources to our
Emmaus Place is a transitional housing program proving beautiful one bedroom apartments for seven
young men between the ages of 19 to 23 who have aged out of the foster care system and are Road to
Independence (RTI) clients of Our Kids in Miami-Dade County. To be admitted to Emmaus Place, young
men must have demonstrated the cognitive, physical, and emotional capacity to potentially live
independently. Emmaus Place is a unique partnership within the child welfare system. Our Kids, as the
lead foster care agency, provides the linkage to all youth who are potential residents and communicates
with the full case management agencies that have direct supervision of the youth. Camillus House, a
community leader in providing services to marginalized population, provides beautifully furnished and
renovated apartments at affordable rents. Casa Valentina, with great success housing young women
aging out of foster care, provides case management to the Emmaus Place residents. Over the past year,
the three partner agencies have further developed their relationships with organizations from across the
county serving foster youth and called upon them to enhance services provided to the residents.
Reduction of children aging out of foster care
As a result of focused community efforts with CLS, GAL and Judges the number of
children with a goal of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA)
decreased from 2010 to 2011 by 54%, while the population ages 14 to 17 decreased by
9% during the same period. This reduction will ensure youth do not age out of foster
care, but instead find permanent and supportive families.
System Enhancements
Medical Enhancements
The Our Kids Nurse Case Management program recognizes that children in foster care have special
health care needs and therefore, the team strives to promote access to quality health care services. We
collaborate with board certified physicians in Miami-Dade & Monroe County to assist in meeting the
medical needs of our children. Introduced in 2009, the team consists of Pediatric Nurses, a Dental Care
Coordinator and Medical Resource Support Staff. The team provides:
Ongoing support and education to foster parents and case workers to promote quality, access
and timeliness of medical services.
Refer medically complex children to Medical Foster Care.
Compile healthcare information on an ongoing basis to keep children healthy and safe.
Form collaborations with local hospitals and healthcare providers involved in children’s health.
During the first quarter of fiscal 09-10, 42% of children received preventive dental within 30
days; by the 4th quarter the number increased to 79%.
1380 children ages 3-17 years of age were scheduled for an initial dental examination.
Partnering with Miami Children’s Hospital, over 378 children received dental services via the
Mobile Dental Unit.
Recruited a pro-bono dentist, Dr. Jorge E. Velazquez that provided initial dental exams and
cleanings as well as discounted restorative services. Dr. Brilliant continues to provide PROBONO orthodontic treatment to Independent Living clients.
Partnering with the Miami Lighthouse Heiken Children’s Vision program, 176 children received
free vision exams and glasses. Thirteen children received free eye exams and glasses with Dr.
Adam Clarin.
Recruited 2 additional pro-bono vision providers: Dr. Adam Clarin and Dr. Karl Ellins.
2147 children were scheduled within 72 Hours of removal for an Initial Health Screening.
1906 children were scheduled for a Pediatric Comprehensive Medical Evaluation/Child Health
Strategic Initiatives
Family Finders
Vision – All kids know who they are, where they came from and where they’re going.
Mission - Creating hope, fulfilling dreams by connecting families.
Family Finders provides youth with a connection to their community and extended family. This is an
excellent strategy to help ground them and provide a sense of belonging.
In 2007, Our Kids received funding for a three year demonstration project through a generous grant
from The Children’s Trust. With this grant the Family Finders Program serves children in foster care and
young adults who have aged out of foster care in Miami-Dade County.
Since October of 2007 we have served 632 youth, and of those, 345 made a connection with extended
family. Twenty-two youth have been permanently placed with a family since November of 2008.
Safety through use of Technology
Last year, Our Kids continued to innovate with the use of technology in child welfare. Two pilot projects
were launched.
Our Kids, in close collaboration with Children’s Legal Services, launched a pilot program in
District 11 called PenPal. The project provides a “digital pen” to each attorney to use in court.
The digital pen scans the updates to the case and wirelessly transmits them to the Our Kids
computers for upload to FSFN. The successful pilot is now being considered for adoption with
CLS attorneys across the state.
School Based Video Tele-Court Conference
School Based Video Tele-Court Conference (VTC) allows students to participate in a video court
conference from school without having to miss a day of school. Tele-Court is a service that makes it easy
for attorneys to schedule, and for the Court to manage and conduct telephonic court appearances.
Engaging Families for Success
Our Kids along with our DCF partners are committed to preserving families whenever possible
by utilizing early and intensive intervention services. In October of 2010, Our Kids Intake participated in
the creation of DCF’s local Family Preservation Protocol. This protocol brought local enthusiasm and
rejuvenated the Our Kids’ Family Preservation System of Care. Since its inception Our Kids has provided
families the opportunity to receive intensive in-home services, but as of October 2010 the numbers of
referrals to our Family Preservation and Diversion Programs have doubled.
In Fiscal Year 2009 – 2010, approximately thirty six percent (36%) of Intakes received were for
Family Preservation Services. This number almost doubled in the 2010-2011 fiscal year where
approximately sixty-eight percent (68%) of Intakes received were for Family Preservation
Services. This is an increase in kids and families served by our programs.
Case Scenario
Our Kids received a referral from the abuse hotline about a family that was neglecting their children. It was a family
who only spoke Mandarin. Two of the children (7 and 8) were autistic and one child (5) was not autistic but was non-verbal.
Although the family had lived here for a long time, they were very isolated. There was writing all over the walls and exposed
electrical wires throughout the house. The fridge did not work. The conditions were deplorable. At any other time this would
have been an immediate removal, but instead we got our Safe At Home (SAH) staff to go out to the home within two hours of
the referral. When our staff arrived the father was drunk and the mother had blood on her forehead indicating that there may
have been a fight between the two of them earlier that afternoon. The mother was extremely withdrawn and she told SAH that
she could not speak English. The father who was intoxicated told the SAH staff that their presence made him very nervous and
that was the reason why he got drunk before his arrival.
SAH was able to get a Mandarin interpreter to come to the home who was associated with a local church. The family
was connected to this church for on-going support. The mother did in fact speak some English. They painted the families walls
and worked on behavioral issues. It turns out that the writing on the wall was done by the children who did not have rule,
structure or routine. The father was depressed about having lost his job and he started to show improvement in his decreased
alcohol consumption. They were able to provide the family assistance through flex funds in order to make the deplorable
environment hospitable again. They spent hours working with this family. One day they worked for 8 hours on cleaning and
painting. By the end of the six weeks the mother actually smiled when the SAH Staff arrived at their home and the five year old
was verbal.
The Pregnancy Prevention Bench Card
The Pregnancy Prevention Bench Card was developed in a partnership between National Council of
Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Our Kids was selected as a national demonstration site to develop and evaluate an implementation plan,
materials and workshop protocols for the effective use of the bench card. Our Kids is providing
leadership in this area in recognition of the alarming rate of pregnancy within our child welfare system.
The bench card is designed to incorporate Judge’s unique position to alter this trajectory of early
unplanned pregnancy. When effectively implemented, Judges ca ensure that case plans include
measures aimed at assisting youth to make informed and responsible decisions. Throughout this effort,
Our Kids is collaborating with community partners and programs to present training to all serving our
youth with the goals of increasing their knowledge of adolescent sexual development and skills
necessary to appropriately discuss sexual health issues.
Young Parents Project
Our Kids is partnering with FSU Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy to provide court
involved young mothers and their children with intensive home visitation that targets the overall health
and developmental needs. Skilled professional staff offers care coordination and outreach including
intensive clinical services supporting mother child relationship development, and the development of a
safe and nurturing home, early screening, referrals, and intervention. YPP supports positive life changes
for these complex young families to stop the intergenerational cycle of poverty, court involvement and
early parenting. The first year of the YPP program demonstrated a significant increase in the percentage
of children in full custody of their parents increased from 14.3% to 63.2%. Additionally, the program
produced a reduction in low birth weight babies, improved health care utilization and a decrease in
subsequent births.
Healthy Teen Coordinators
Through the leadership of the Board’s Prevention Subcommittee, Our Kids began monitoring the
incidence of teenage pregnancy to ensure appropriate pre/post natal care. This initiative is leading to
improved foster parent training, awareness and teen education
Healthy Teen Coordinators provide age appropriate medically accurate sex education information to our
teens, making certain they make the best personal decisions and avoid risky behavior. They work with
staff, foster parents and teens using their deep understanding of community resources to offer guidance
and make referrals. The Coordinators all strive to develop trust and create enduring relationships with
our teens, becoming a real resource to them as they become adults.
Last year, Healthy Teen Coordinators along with staff from many agencies participated in a three day
training on Making Proud Choices, an evidenced based curriculum which provides medically accurate sex
education to our teens. Now that they are certified facilitators of the curriculum, the Healthy Teen
Coordinators have presented the eight hour program several times and all teens who have participated
have reviewed the classes very favorably. Our goal is to provide teens with the tools and knowledge
required to make their best personal decisions and avoid risky behaviors.
Healthy Teen Coordinators work with staff, foster parents and teens using their deep understanding of
community resources to offer guidance and referrals. Staff and foster parents attended classes on
adolescent sexual development at conferences and workshops held throughout the year to raise their
awareness of the issues facing our youth and best practices to incorporate into their work.
“Follow My Child” - The Our Kids Medical Passport.
The last two years have been an exciting and successful time in the development of the Medical
Passport at Our Kids; many important steps have been accomplished, we have learned many lessons and
are moving forward with a strategic plan for prototype development. With the experience of
implementing “Health Shack” an interactive personal health record designed for teens, we were able to
refine it and developed our personal health record software prototype to be used system-wide – we are
calling it, “Follow My Child”..
We designed “Follow My Child” to address the barriers raised by medical professional in focus groups
we conducted. We put the exact information they requested into the report – nothing more and
nothing less. The summary health information is available in a one-page report specifically designed for
physicians and health care providers. The electronic medical passport is updated daily by nurses and
case managers and can be securely accessed and printed by foster parents and case workers prior to the
medical visit. The medical passport report can be scanned into the physicians own electronic health
care record or simply added to the medical file. It does not require the physician or the office staff to
learn a new system, log-on to another system or make a financial investment.
We have designed, implemented and are currently evaluating our prototype. Our next step is to help
educate foster parents on the use and benefits of “Follow My Child”. For our foster parents, it will
require a greater level of commitment to their foster children’s healthcare. We want to design training
materials and hire highly competent staff to deliver instruction and offer encouragement to the foster
parents. We know that often foster parents are forced to make medical decisions with fear and
trepidation because of inadequate health information and will recognize the benefits of participating.