For Immediate Release: November 3, 2022

Contact: HQW.Press.Office@myflfamilies.com  

DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris and Children’s Network of Southwest Florida Host Roundtable for Local Foster Parents in Fort Myers

Fort Myers, Fla. – Today, Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris along with Children’s Network of Southwest Florida hosted a roundtable discussion and distribution event with foster families in the Fort Myers area. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the Department has been working with its community partners to meet the needs of those impacted. This event served as an opportunity to hear directly from foster parents impacted by the storm and the ways in which the Department and our partners can continue to support them and the children in their care.

During the event, Save the Children, the first global organization devoted solely to serving children’s needs and securing their rights, presented a $100,000.00 check to Children’s Network of Southwest Florida for foster families affected by Hurricane Ian. The organization manages programs around the globe to improve the lives of children including health, education, policy and advocacy, child sponsorship, and emergency response.

“The Department of Children and Families is grateful for the leadership and support of Governor DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis in prioritizing resources and supports for those impacted by Hurricane Ian,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. The Department is committed to supporting foster families, relative and non-relative caregivers impacted the by storm. That would not be possible without our partners, and we are thankful for the generosity they have shown in helping us meet the needs of the children and families we serve.”

“Our community has been rocked by the impacts of Hurricane Ian,” said Nadereh Salim, CEO of Children’s Network of Southwest Florida. “But our families are strong, and thanks to the support of so many of our community partners we are able to supply our families with needed resources.”

“We have seen so many organizations stand up to help the impacted areas of southwest Florida, and we are proud to be able to support organizations like the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida,” said Greta Wetzel, Save the Children. “We want to continue to support this community as they recover from Hurricane Ian.”

Later in the day, the Department and Children’s Network of Southwest Florida hosted a distribution event with the help of Amazon, Simply Healthcare and Sunshine Health Plan, who all donated items for foster families and children impacted by Hurricane Ian. Families were invited to come and pick up baby supplies, cleaning supplies, gift cards, books, and toys.

“As Floridians continue to recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Amazon is happy to donate this first shipment of toys for children and families in need,” said Brian Huseman, Vice President of Public Policy at Amazon. “We thank the Governor and the First Lady for their continued leadership in the recovery process, and we hope these toys help children find some comfort during this challenging time.”

“By ensuring that children and families of Southwest Florida have the resources and support they need, we can help improve their health, quality of life and well-being.” said Holly Prince, President of Simply Healthcare. “We are proud to join the Department of Children and Families and Children’s Network of Southwest Florida at today’s round table and we will continue to work hand-in-hand to ensure foster families have access to the services and support that they need.”

“For years Sunshine Health has worked to make sure that the children and families we serve are living healthy fulfilled lives,” said Julie Smythe, Vice President for Child Welfare Specialty Plan. “We are glad to be a partner in bringing supplies to families as they recover from Hurricane Ian, and will continue our commitment to serve children, youth and families in all communities.”