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Guardians for New Futures Child Summit 2021

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Jon Shainman, WPTV

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Andrea Raasch, SATP State Coordinator

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Stephany Rivera and Loree Lingis

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Monica Trueba and Deputy Bill Feaman of PBCO Sheriff's Department, Daya and Willow

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Barbara Faulkner, MPA, Director, Vistim Services Office of the State Attorney

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Barbara Faulkner, MPA, Director, Vistim Services Office of the State Attorney

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Kristi Huddlestonof Harmony Hope Stables

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Rona Brighthaupt

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Terry Thomas, Inspector, Florida Dep't of Law Enforcement, Retired

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Guardians for New Futures President Debbie Butler and CEO Caroline Vinyard

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Oralea Marquardt and Jacki Nardone, Treasure Coast Hospice

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State Senator Gayle Harrell

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Dr. Gerardo Rodriquez-Menendez zooms in from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology

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Lacey Buxton, Hibiscus Children's Center

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The Sheriff's Panel moderated by WPTV's Jon Shainman

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Via Zoom- Dr. Teresa Albizu, CEO Safe Space

Guardians for New Futures Child Summit 2021

The Guardians for New Futures 9th Annual Child Summit successfully engaged well over 200 participants in person at Baron Real Estate in Port Saint Lucie and via Zoom. The two-day event consisted of informative talks and presentations by experts from various fields with a dual focus- Changing the Child Abuse System in our Community and Child Advocacy in Action: Resources in Our Community.

The utilization of Zoom drew an audience from all over the state and attracted professionals in child welfare from as far away as The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Keynote speaker and Champion for Children State Senator Gayle Harrell opened the Summit speaking about the advent of the new Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in the 19th Circuit, which she is hopeful to see open by the end of the year.

Child Advocacy Centers unify the system in a local way leading to higher standards and more accountability.

Harrell also shared information regarding the passage of 2 child-focused Senate bills. Senate Bill 80 requires that every child's case record include a face sheet (a synopsis of best-interest facts) to help determine the child's most appropriate courses of action.

Senate Bill 96, Harrell stated, deals with the juxtaposition of child abuse and animal abuse.

CEO Caroline Vinyard espoused the benefits of the coming CAC. "By establishing a Circle of Care and colocating all of the stakeholders, we can significantly reduce the trauma of the child. The child won't have to tell their story multiple times."

Additional topics covered included the impact of domestic violence on children, children's mental health after Covid-19, victim advocacy services, neuropsychological findings in child abuse cases, Florida sexual abuse treatment programs, interviewing perpetrators in child sexual abuse cases, equine and music therapy, and understanding grief and loss in children.

A Sheriff's Panel moderated by WPTV's Jon Shainman included Okeechobee Sheriff Noel Stephen, St. Lucie County Sheriff Chief of Staff Garry Wilson, Lt. Yesenia Carde of the Martin County Sheriff's Department, Captain Kyle King of the Indian River Sheriff's Department, and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sheldon Burkett of the DEA.

This module shed light on the uptick in disruptive behavior and mental health issues due to the Covid-19 lockdowns, internet crimes against children by online predators through new apps, the rise in human trafficking, and more.

Guardians for New Futures President Debbie Butler pointed out that "Sadly, these issues know no socioeconomic barriers."

For more info, please visit GFNF4Kids.org

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