More than 400 Attend DCF, DJJ Faith Symposium

For Immediate Release: October 24, 2012                            
Contact: Erin Gillespie, DCF Press Secretary, (850) 717-4450
                   C.J. Drake, DJJ Communications Director, (850) 921-5905

More than 400 Attend DCF, DJJ Faith Symposium
Community leaders will share best practices, train volunteers, enhance programs for at-risk families and children

ORLANDO – More than 400 community members, faith-based leaders and government officials attended the 2012 Faith Symposium in Orlando to share best practices, hear inspiring speakers and work together to provide better services to families and children in need.

The day kicked off with a keynote from Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins and Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters. Speakers on Wednesday also included former NFL linebacker and Super Bowl champion Derrick Brooks, who now partners with DCF on the Camps for Champions program for children in foster care, and Papa Joe Bradford of Elijah’s Heart Ministry, who inspired the movie “Unconditional.”

“The work of faith-based and community organizations truly changes lives across this state every single day,” said Secretary Wilkins. “One person who takes the time to teach a child or help a family in need makes an extraordinary difference. That’s why it’s so important that we reach out to our faith-based partners to help is in our mission to protect Florida’s children, vulnerable adults and families.”

The three-day event, "Our Children, Our Future: Restoring Hope," is focused on collaborating on fresh perspectives to support delinquent and at-risk youth and other ways to truly change lives and strengthen communities.

“This symposium reinforces the efforts our two agencies are making to highlight best practices, provide training to enhance faith and community-based programs and raise awareness of issues affecting our youth and their families,” said Secretary Walters. “We are committed to developing dynamic partnerships that take a holistic approach to turning around the lives of troubled youth.”

On Thursday and Friday, other special speakers will include legendary coach Tony Dungy; Jaiya John, who grew up in foster care and now is a true advocate for our children; and Myron Rolle, a Rhodes Scholar and football star who started a summer camp for foster children.

Workshops for participants this week will include human trafficking, foster parent recruitment, mentoring, community partnerships, serving those with disabilities, servant leadership, homelessness, involved fathers and the importance of education, among others.

The symposium also provides formal training for DJJ's Faith and Community Network Partners and Chaplaincy Services program, a comprehensive partnership designed to involve faith communities in providing voluntary programs and services to troubled youth to help them lead successful lives.

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