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For Immediate Release: May 1, 2020

Department of Children and Families Announces Faith-Based Partnerships
Supporting Florida’s Child Welfare System

Camp Anderson in Oldtown will house children in foster care potentially exposed to COVID-19

TALLAHASSEE, Fla – Today, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced multiple partnerships with faith-based organizations that are supporting Florida’s child welfare system during the current public health emergency. Established in coordination with Erik Dellenback, the Governor’s Faith and Community Based Liaison, and the Florida Coalition for Children (FCC), and DCF, these partnerships will extend specifically to children in foster care.

“I’m extremely thankful to the faith leaders who are practicing what they preach, supporting children in foster care and ensuring each one, no matter their circumstances, has the opportunity to grow up feeling safe and loved,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “During this time of stress and uncertainty, we have to remember that we are all working toward something greater. Today, our world is different, but our commitment to children remains strong.”

“Florida is blessed to have a faith-based community that understands true selflessness and recognizes the need to continue serving others during this pandemic,” said Erik Dellenback, the Governor’s Faith and Community Based Liaison. “As they have demonstrated, now more than ever, we have to lean on one another and help our neighbors – especially children and youth – whenever possible. We will get through this, together.”

“The leadership shown by the Governor’s faith initiatives, DCF, and other state and national partners call for innovation within our system of care. These efforts keep our communities, families, partners and our youth ‘connected’ during these unprecedented times,” said Kurt Kelly, CEO of the Florida Coalition for Children. “This is a testament to the innovations and collaborations that have come to define Florida’s community of care and are a daily reminder that we are all in this together.”

Camp Anderson, a Christian youth camp in Oldtown, has volunteered to provide 14-day isolation quarters for children who are returning to foster care and children who may have been potentially exposed to COVID-19. Care for the foster children will be provided by 22 Camp Anderson counselors who have passed the thorough background check required for all DCF staff. Nurses from the Department of Health (DOH) will also be onsite to provide viral symptoms screenings, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, twice daily for both children and caregivers. DCF will coordinate with DOH to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for them as well.

Additionally, Angel Armies – a national organization founded by Grammy award-winning Christian recording artist Chris Tomlin, dedicated to being a voice for the vulnerable by partnering with organizations and churches to support children in the child welfare system – donated $25,000 to purchase laptops for foster children. This will allow them to remain connected to their families and continue their schooling.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to our kids in the middle of their greatest need,” said William Bloodworth, Camp Director at Camp Anderson. “We will all stand before God and give account of our stewardship one day, and we will realize that when we served the most vulnerable in our society, God will commend us for having served Him.”

“In moments like these, it is critical that America’s most vulnerable are not forgotten, and we want to help provide them with the essential tools to succeed,” said Chris Tomlin, founder of Angel Armies. "I am grateful that Angel Armies has been able to supply Florida with laptops like we have already done in California. We look forward to finding other opportunities to support kids in need across our nation."

For more information about how faith and community organizations are supporting Floridians, please visit the Governor’s Faith and Community Based Initiative at: faithandcommunityflorida.com

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Governor DeSantis created the Governor’s Faith and Community Based Initiative in August of 2019 to create a healthy line of communication between the Governor’s office and Florida’s Faith and Community Organizations. The initiative serves as the primary point of contact for all faith-based and community organizations in Florida. Through the initiative, Erik Dellenback works with each state agency to identify the needs of Florida’s most vulnerable populations and share that information with the Faith and Community Organizations most passionate about serving those vulnerable people groups.