Eckerd to Unveil Friends of the Children Program in Tampa Bay on September 25th

Friends of the Children │Eckerd, is a new Eckerd program in Tampa Bay that is designed to ensure children involved in Florida’s child welfare system are afforded the greatest opportunity to break the cycle of abuse and achieve their highest dreams and aspirations.

Eckerd’s Friends of the Children Program assigns a full time, salaried, professional mentor to the highest risk children. The Tampa Bay Program is designed to target at-risk children, ages 5 or 6, who have been removed from a biological parent and placed in the foster care system. Children selected for the program are amongst the highest risk for poor life outcomes: dropping out of school, being involved in the criminal justice system, and experiencing teen pregnancy and/or parenting. After selection, the Friends of the Children program makes a 12 year commitment to stay with the child, no matter what, through graduation.

The kick-off event is scheduled for Thursday, September 25th, at Layla’s House in North Tampa. Interim Secretary Mike Carroll of the Florida Department of Children and Families will be speaking about the positive impact this program will have on the foster care system. Other speakers will include Eckerd Chief of Programs – Florida Lorita Shirley, Founder of Friends of the Children Duncan Campbell and foster parent Richard Adkins.

Richard Adkins and his wife live in St. Petersburg and have been foster parents to approximately 15 children over the past 5 years. The couple decided to become foster parents after their church showed a presentation about children in the foster care system. Adkins has two foster girls who are part of the inaugural class of 64 children in Tampa Bay.

This program is being modeled after the nationally-recognized Friends of the Children’s model that originated in Portland, Oregon. The organization’s proven model to break the cycle of poverty for the highest risk children has been replicated in seven locations in the US and United Kingdom.
(editor’s note: foster children, parents and “friends” will be available to be filmed and photographed)

WHAT: Friends of the Children │Eckerd Kick-Off Event
WHEN: Thursday, September 25, 2014, at 3 pm
WHERE: Layla’s House │ 1506 East Eskimo Ave., Tampa, FL
WHO: Department of Children and Families Interim Secretary Mike Carroll, Eckerd Chief of Program Services Lorita Shirley, Founder of Friends of the Children Duncan Campbell, Foster Parent Richard Adkins