We at Eckerd Connects want foster care to be fixed | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
The Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives offices at 8550 Ulmerton Road in Largo.
The Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives offices at 8550 Ulmerton Road in Largo. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Nov. 13

It will take money

Fix foster care now | Editorial, Nov. 6

Eckerd Connects wholeheartedly agrees with the statement in your editorial, “Fix foster care now,” that our collective focus going forward must be on providing children in need with a safe, stable living environment. We will continue to focus on that mission and work collaboratively with the Florida Department of Children and Families as we fulfill our contract and help ensure a smooth transition to a new service provider in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

While we have been transparent in raising concerns about the gap between funding and the growing needs of at-risk children in this area, we want to sincerely thank Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, along with Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis, for all they have done to support the children and families of Florida and Eckerd Connects, as well as their efforts to strengthen the system of care in our state and community. We also want to recognize the dedication of child protective investigators at local law enforcement agencies who often face dangerous situations while trying to help children in need.

Eckerd Connects will continue to partner with all stakeholders, including the Florida Legislature, to share lessons learned from our experience and our thoughts on how to provide the support that our community needs to better protect vulnerable children. As your editorial noted, now is the time to fix foster care in our community. We will wholeheartedly support that effort. Our fundamental mission and commitment has been — and will continue to be — improving the health and wellbeing of children and families and being an engaged and supportive partner to other stakeholders in our child welfare system.

Ray Ferrara

The writer is chairman of the board of Eckerd Connects.

Both sides do this bad thing

Gerrymandering surges as states redraw House maps | Nov. 11

In my opinion, gerrymandering of districts for the U.S. House is one of the most politically divisive things that one party can do. Yes, both parties (Democratic and Republican) have been doing it for more than 100 years. Basically it is the practice of creating districts that give a party the best chance of winning elections and concentrating the voters of the other party in fewer districts. If you read most of the news on the internet, you would think that only states with Republican-controlled legislatures (like North Carolina, Arkansas, Ohio and Texas) were doing that. What they don’t mention is that states controlled by Democrats (Oregon, Illinois and Maryland) are doing the same. Fortunately there are states, like Colorado, where the redistricting is done by an independent commission. We can only hope that other public officials will take notice.

Tom Craig, Riverview

God’s gift

Winter the dolphin dies at Clearwater aquarium | Nov. 12

I believe that God gave Winter the dolphin a second chance at life to help others and she did. Now God is calling her home where she can be remembered forever.

Stan Sofer, Belleair Beach

Cyberinsecure cat

What a house cat can teach us about cybersecurity | Nov. 12

As one of thousands, even millions, of cat lovers “owned” by the feline population, I found that Herbert Lin’s column about his daughter’s cat, Pounce, was a literary breath of fresh air. His comparison between his personal, allergy-caused attempts to contain Pounce with those of cybersecurity’s efforts politically was an amusing journalistically positive observation amid the frequently reported negative bad news of the world.

Colleen Paglen, Treasure Island

Budget priorities

Cost of border visit: $570,000 | Nov. 12

More than $571,000 and counting is what it has cost to recently send Florida law enforcement officials to help patrol the Texas border. Gov. Ron DeSantis assures taxpayers that, “Obviously, we are doing this within an existing budget.” The same budget that doesn’t include expanding Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of uninsured, low-income Floridians, or fixing, once and for all, the state’s unemployment insurance system, one of the most unresponsive and stingiest in the nation. Nevertheless, DeSantis asserts that, “We’re making sure that all our priorities are met.” That is, making sure that Chamber of Commerce and developer interests are catered to at the expense of local governments.

“We have a lot of stuff going on in the state,” DeSantis declares. Like blocking mask mandates and penalizing local school officials, or defending lawsuits brought by good governance groups against legislation that makes voting more difficult, or suing OSHA over its employer vaccine rules — all at undisclosed but undoubtedly enormous legal fees charged to the taxpayers. Well done, governor!

Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center