August 9, 2021
The University of South Florida and Florida KIDS COUNT (FKC) have been a part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT network since 1992, soon after the first KIDS COUNT® Data Book was published in 1989 by the Foundation. For nearly 30 years, this successful partnership has helped inform many Floridians and their policy makers about the quality of life for Florida’s children, while helping to build leadership and accountability for action on behalf of our children.
Six years ago, when I was appointed FKC Director, I envisioned that much of my focus would be on the Data Book and a few additional publications. I quickly learned how much more there is to Florida KIDS COUNT! We are charged with bringing reliable data on child well-being to inform policy for Florida’s children and families. What a reframe. I became a researcher in the hopes my work would help make the world just a little better place, but in my research career, no one really had ever asked for data before. Suddenly, with FKC, people couldn’t wait for the next release. For me, FKC opened a whole new way to reach people who make decisions about kids. I have been able to meet so many people who work for Florida’s kids and families every single day – The Children’s Campaign, one of FKC’s earliest partners, the Association of Early Learning Coalitions, the Florida Children’s Cabinet, the Florida Partnership for Healthy Schools, Children’s Services Councils and so many more than I could list. And of course, FKC has had the unwavering support of the Department of Child and Family Studies at USF.
You are probably getting the idea that there is about to be a big change and you are right! Florida KIDS COUNT is moving to the Florida Policy Institute (FPI), a non-partisan research and advocacy group that works on issues central to the KIDS COUNT network. FPI has analysts dedicated to health care, safety net programs like WIC, immigration, budgetary policy, justice reform, as well as education and early childhood. This is a great opportunity to elevate Florida KIDS COUNT and its mission even further throughout the state. FKC will both be infused with this expertise as well as bringing the child and family perspective to each of these policy areas. This is a very exciting time!
Florida KIDS COUNT will keep being a resource to you and your work. All of the resources produced during our time at USF will be housed on the website: https://floridakidscountusf.org, which USF has kindly agreed to host. New resources will be available at floridakidscount.org.
Thank you all for your support of Florida KIDS COUNT. We wouldn’t have had the amount of impact without you. I can’t wait to see what happens next and hope you will join me and the Florida Policy Institute taking FKC to the next level.
In closing, I would like to thank my incredible team for the last six years, Cindi Shockley, Storie Miller and Karry Mayo and the leadership of Mario Hernandez.