Eckerd Announces Hillsborough Celebration of Reunified Families on June 26th

890 families in Hillsborough County reunified so far this year

Eckerd Community Alternatives Hillsborough announces its third annual Reunification Day celebration on June 26, 2015.  This event honors Hillsborough County families who have overcome obstacles in their lives in order to be reunified with their children.

The celebration will take place on Friday, June 26, 2015 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and will feature success stories from families, special guest speakers, refreshments, and children’s activities.

Each year in Hillsborough County, hundreds of parents complete the tasks necessary to make their homes safe so that they may be reunified with their children.  In Hillsborough County, 697 families were reunified in fiscal year 2013/2014. In fiscal year 2014/2015, 890 have been reunified as of June 12, 2015.

Reunification is truly a community success.  The parents who are reunified with their children are supported in their communities by family court judges, case workers, service providers, guardians ad litem, foster parents, and relatives, among others.  For the third year, Eckerd Community Alternatives Hillsborough will partner with the Florida Department of Children and Families, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, Camelot Community Care, Children’s Home Society, Devereux Case Management, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, Inc., One Hope United, Youth & Family Alternatives, Inc., Guardian Ad Litem Program, Office of the Attorney General, and the Hillsborough County Family Partnership Alliance to host this celebration honoring Hillsborough parents who have reunified with their children and, as a result, have strengthened our communities.


Reunification Success Story:  Heather Strickland and Tim Burkowske

Following the loss of her boyfriend and subsequent substance misuse, Ms. Strickland and her daughter became involved in the system in 2014. Ms. Strickland engaged with services immediately and worked diligently to address her substance abuse issues. While, there were some setbacks, Ms. Strickland was determined to make substantial lifestyle changes for her daughter, Haylee. “You have to step back and think about what the children are going through, not yourself,” said Strickland.  Ms. Strickland successfully completed residential treatment, which also addressed grief counseling. Following the treatments, she has been reunified with Haylee since March 2015.

Haylee spent approximately one year with Tim Burkowske and his family prior to being reunified with her mother.  During the time period while Haylee was with Mr. Burkowske and his wife, Mr. Burkowske maintained a close relationship with Ms. Strickland by participating in family visits and providing transportation in order to stay invested in the relationship.  Mr. Burkowske continues to make every effort to remain in close contact with Ms. Strickland and Haylee.  “Being a foster parent is not easy, but being a parent is not easy either.  If you are going to be a parent to any child, be invested and do it all the way, “said Burkowske.

Ms. Strickland and Mr. Burkowske will be available to share their story with the media.


WHAT:          Third Annual Reunification Day Celebration
WHEN:          Friday, June 26, 2015, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm
WHERE:       Edgecomb Court House, 800 E. Twiggs Street, 6th Floor, Tampa, FL 33602
WHO:             Families who have been reunited; Family Court Judges; Foster Parents; Case Workers and Service Providers