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Walton County Foster Care Orientation

Pensacola, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2017) – FamiliesFirst Network of Lakeview (FFN) and the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) in DeFuniak Springs have joined together to present a community orientation about foster care and supportive services. Fostering Hope Orientation will be held on February 9 starting at 6 p.m. at the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center at 336 College Ave., DeFuniak Springs.

“Strong partnerships in the communities we serve are crucial,” said Shawn Salamida, CEO of FFN. “The care and well-being of our children is not something any one agency can accomplish. We need law enforcement, advocacy centers, churches, support agencies, businesses, and individuals to join us in supporting abused and neglect children in our communities.”

As the lead agency for child welfare services in Northwest Florida, FFN has experienced roughly a 45 percent increase in the number of children needing out-of-home placement over the last three years. From June 2015 to November 2016, Walton County experienced an 87.5 percent increase in the number of children being removed from their homes for their safety.

“The number of children referred to us for child protective services is growing,” said Salamida. “FamiliesFirst Network has identified an especially urgent need for additional foster homes in the Walton County area. It is a trend we’re seeing not only in our area, but in other parts of Florida and beyond.”

Currently in Walton County there are 13 active foster homes. Only three of those foster homes are in the DeFuniak Springs area. As of November 2016, seventy-five children from Walton County have been placed. Due to the lack of local foster homes, many have had to be placed in other counties because there are not a sufficient number of foster homes to keep them in their neighborhoods, schools, and familiar surroundings.

“At the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center our staff work with children who have been removed from their parents for their safety and have experienced some of the worst cases of abuse,” said Julie Hurst, CEO at ECCAC. “We are proud to partner with FamiliesFirst Network caseworkers and foster families to be a part of providing stable environments for these children. They deserve no less.”

This event is open to everyone with an interest in helping children in the Walton County area. The program will address requirements to become a foster family as well as what the community and individuals can do to help families. Light refreshments will be served.

Registration is free, but seating is limited. Interested individuals can sign up at For more information about this event, contact Brenda Robinson at 850.533.6095.

An affiliate of Baptist Health Care, Lakeview Center Inc. is a network of behavioral health, vocational and child protective services. These services address a broad spectrum of human needs, reflecting a longstanding commitment to helping people overcome life's challenges.

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