Tuesday’s letters: Challenges in Hillsborough foster care

Published February 12 2018
Updated February 12 2018

Foster failures under scrutiny | Feb. 10

Challenges in foster care system

No young person deserves to be treated as shown in the Ch. 8 segment on Youth and Family Alternatives Inc., an Eckerd Connects subcontractor. It is difficult to fathom how this was allowed, and apologies fall short.

On Jan. 24, Eckerd Connects became aware of allegations of youth being left unsupervised in the community by YFA workers. Eckerd Connects immediately reported the incident to the appropriate authorities. It appears the practice of leaving teenage youth essentially unsupervised in the community by YFA staff was not an isolated incident. YFAís contract for Circuit 13 has been terminated.

Eckerd Connects requires that all youth be taken to the schools in which they are enrolled. If a youth refuses to attend school, the expectation is for case managers to provide supervision at appropriate locations while working with the school truancy officer, judiciary and Eckerd to resolve the issue. Eckerd Connects is taking steps to understand why these protocols were not followed and address the underlying issues that facilitated potentially damaging actions carried out by one of our partner agencies.

Hillsborough County has long faced challenges with our foster care system. As a Times article in April 2017 highlighted, the countyís "lead child welfare agency is shortchanged almost $6 million in state funds this year while roughly $44 million goes to other agencies across Florida to look after foster children they do not have, state records show." Despite serving 700 more children than Miami, our communityís system receives $20 million less in core funding from the state.

To be clear: This is not about throwing more money at a problem. It is about having an equitable share of state resources to care for our children; to support our foster parents and kinship care; and to invest in effective measures to address the underlying issues we face.

This unfortunate news serves as both a reminder and an opportunity for the community, legislators and other stakeholders to rally behind our community and all the agencies that make up the system of care in Hillsborough County.

Dennis Hardiman, Eckerd Connects, chairman; Joseph W. Clark, Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives, Hillsborough board chair; V. Raymond Ferrara, Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives, Pasco and Pinellas board chair

Rays moving in historic direction | Feb. 10

Donít let the city down

The announcement of the Rays leaving St. Petersburg has been a long time coming. City forefathers would be jumping in their graves learning the Rays will be breaking their contract with St. Petersburg.

My grandfather, and thousands of others, worked tirelessly to bring major-league baseball to our city, and the cost of the team leaving is huge.

I am asking city officials, especially Mayor Rick Kriseman, to be strong in negotiating terms with the Rays for breaking our contract. If we do not receive the minimum financial/contractual obligations the Rays owe the city, it will be a severe blow. Please remember the men and women who fought to get them here, and their legacies.

Please be a strong leader for them, and us as residents of St. Petersburg.

Greg Foster, St. Petersburg

Nightmare in the making

At any given time of the day, getting from Pinellas County to Tampa is a nightmare. The Gandy Bridge exits into stop-and-go traffic, clogged no matter what time of day. While the Howard Franklin Bridge has more lanes, it bottlenecks once past the airport exit and continues for miles. Getting off at Kennedy Boulevard would mean stop-and-go traffic thatís already a joke, and the Courtney Campbell Causeway would also feed into that traffic to get to Kennedy.

Ybor City is not a feasible site for a stadium ó nobody can get there. Really, itís just another power grab by Hillsborough County to make Pinellas County their orphan. By the way, you can stop calling them the Tampa Bay Rays ó unless youíre playing in the bay itself, thereís no city or town named "Tampa Bay."

Debi Ford, St. Petersburg

Taxpayers to be fleeced

Career politicians Bob Buckhorn and Ken Hagan will not be around when it is time for the taxpayers to ante up, should this folly get that far. Facts are facts: The Raysí attendance is lousy and will only marginally increase with a new location.

The blunders (maybe lies) of Mayor Dick Greco and his administration will be repeated by Buckhorn and Hagan, which will continue to leave the taxpayers in serious debt for two stadiums whose ownership groups are woeful. The Bucs averaged actual attendance of less than 52,000 per game in 2017 for a stadium that seats 65,000-plus. The Rays were less than 13,000 for home games.

Wake up taxpayers, you are about to get fleeced again.

Dick Powers, Tampa

A few benefit; most donít

I will continue to be adamant (for more reasons than space will allow) that Tampa does not and should not house another professional sports team. It is beyond my comprehension to have such things stuffed down the throats of the majority of citizens (who will certainly be the losers) for the benefit of the privileged few (who will certainly be the winners), if the Tampa Bay Rays get crammed into the 14 acres currently being promoted, or for that matter any other Tampa location.

And as I have professed before, I do not want one red cent of my tax dollars to go for the support of this dilemma.

Stay in St. Petersburg or go elsewhere.

Dennis Trosky, Tampa

Practical problems

None of the enraptured Ybor City stadium advocates seem to address the most astounding and obvious flaw in building a baseball stadium on this site: There will be no place to park. And exactly how do these beguiled and unrealistic promoters think that 30,000 to 40,000 baseball fans will be able to get to the stadium in the first place?

Terrence Gourdine, Clearwater