Looking for a Few Good Soccer Moms & Dads

March 5, 2013

DCF Contact:  Terri Durdaller (813) 917-7570
\ Eckerd Contact: April Putzulu (727) 215-7068

Looking for a Few Good Soccer Moms & Dads
New "Each One - Reach One" Campaign Kicks-Off at Florida Strawberry Festival to Recruit New Generation of Foster Parents

PLANT CITY– Tanya Wilkins, statewide child advocate and wife of DCF Secretary David Wilkins, will join Eckerd Community Alternatives at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City on Friday March 8th to kick-off of an exciting new campaign called "Each One - Reach One". The campaign invites church and business leaders, elected officials, current foster parents, the media, and Floridians to help in the recruitment of new foster parents that are desperately needed to provide stable, loving homes for the nearly 2,000 Tampa Bay foster children. 

One year after DCF Secretary David Wilkins unveiled an initiative called "Fostering Florida's Future " and six months after he issued a statewide call for "1200 new foster parents in 12 months ", Tampa Bay leads the state in the number of newly licensed foster homes – 161 so far this year – under Eckerd as the lead agency for community-based foster care services in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. However, with social challenges on the rise including the prescription drug epidemic, more foster homes are needed to keep up with the increase in children removed from their parents' homes due to abuse and neglect. So, state and local officials are joining forces with Tampa Bay citizens in a community-wide call to action to recruit more foster parents.

The campaign will focus on reaching out to the ultimate "soccer moms and dads" in our community, those who would care for and offer a child in foster care the same quality of life that they would offer their own biological child. If each one in the community helps us reach one new foster parent, our community's most vulnerable children will be safe, loved and nurtured until they can safely return to their parents' home or be adopted into a forever family.  As part of the campaign, a new Tampa Bay foster parent recruitment website will be announced:  FosteringTampaBay.org.

  • What: "Each One – Reach One " Foster Parent Recruitment Campaign Kick-Off

  • When:Friday March 8 from 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • Where: Florida Strawberry Festival / Borden Dairy Strawberry Tent, 303 North Lemon Street, Plant City, FL 33563

  • Who: Tanya Wilkins, child advocate and wife of DCF Secretary David Wilkins; Lorita Shirley, executive director for Eckerd Community Alternatives | Hillsborough; Judith Warren, executive director for Eckerd Community Alternatives | Pasco and Pinellas; Major Robert Bullara, Hillsborough Sheriff's Office / Child Protective Investigations; Doug and Janna Lindstrom, Hillsborough Foster Parents; host of Legislators, Elected Officials, Business/Church Leaders, and Foster Families

  • Why: The entire community is needed to help recruit more foster homes for young victims of child abuse and neglect who have been removed from their home and need safe, stable and loving homes.  As importantly, media partners are needed to help spread the word and promote new recruitment website:  FosteringTampaBay.org 

  • B-Roll: There are great b-roll and interview opportunities available for members of the press to speak with state/local officials about the campaign; law enforcement about the prescription drug epidemic and other reasons for high child removal rates; Tampa Bay foster parents who represent the new generation of fostering; and church/business leaders who are interested in joining the campaign. Reigning Miss Teen America Eleana Frangedis will also be in attendance and available for interviews; she is a national ambassador for Eckerd's children's charity and a strong advocate for Florida's foster children. Following the 30 minute campaign kick-off/program, those in attendance will be led to the St. Clement Catholic Church "Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake" booth to enjoy complimentary refreshments generously provided by the church – and two of their church leaders involved with the festival booth are Hillsborough foster/adoptive parents themselves (making for another good b-roll and interview opportunity).

About Eckerd Community Alternatives:
Eckerd Community Alternatives, as contracted by the Florida Department of Children and Families, is the community-based care lead agency for child welfare and foster care services in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties), serving nearly 7,000 children and their families each day.  It is a program of Eckerd, a national nonprofit children's charity headquartered in Clearwater, Florida that has given much-needed second chances to over 150,000 children and families since its founding by Jack and Ruth Eckerd in 1968.  To learn more visit EckerdCBC.org or FosteringTampaBay.org.