Eckerd Connects. Are you affiliated with the drug store?
Great question and we get that one often. The short answer is “yes”. Jack Eckerd transformed his family’s retail drugstore business into one of the leading self-service drugstore chains in the United States, Eckerd Drugs. In 1968, Jack and Ruth Eckerd founded a program which grew to become Eckerd Connects. They envisioned a program to create healthy and successful alternatives to help children turn their lives around. What started as Florida’s first private boys’ wilderness therapy program quickly expanded to include the state’s first outdoor therapeutic program for girls in the southeastern United States.
By 1982, the state of Florida asked Eckerd Connects to operate the state’s first private juvenile justice program. Soon after, Eckerd Connects added a transitional program for youth who successfully completed a residential juvenile justice program to its service offerings. In the last few years we have added workforce development programs across the country.
In 2008, Eckerd Connects was competitively awarded the child welfare contract to operate one of Florida’s largest community-based care Lead Agency located in Pinellas/Pasco counties. In 2012, Eckerd Connects was selected to operate a second community-based care Lead Agency in Hillsborough, Florida. Combined with its Pinellas/Pasco lead agency, Eckerd Connects operates a child welfare system of care larger than 15 states and the District of Columbia.
Weren’t you called Eckerd Kids?
Yes, but we changed our name to reflect all the work we do—we are involved in so much more than child welfare. We assist adults with their employment search and help guide teenagers exiting the juvenile justice system. Connecting people to the opportunities they need to succeed has always been our mission—now our name reflects that.
Are you a local non-profit?
While we are based in Clearwater, Florida, we actually operate 160 programs across 20 states . We concentrate mainly in the areas of children and family services, workforce development, and juvenile justice. Last year, we served more than 40,000 children, teens, and adults nationwide!
What is workforce development?
Eckerd Connects’ Workforce Development training is provided at programs that are funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). They include Title I programs serving youth, young adults, adults, and dislocated workers who meet WIOA eligibility requirements. Eckerd Connects has enhanced workforce development best practices through mergers with both Paxen and the Henkels & McCoy Training Services Group, gaining over 35 years of valuable experience and aligning effective services across a broad national program array that includes:
- Career exploration
- Work readiness training
- Paid Work Experiences
- Adult Education
- Job placement
- Career Pathways
Through our Eckerd Connects WIOA programs we form a strong network of relationships with local businesses and employers, allowing us to match our participants with jobs based on the needs of each community.