445 families in Pinellas County reunified so far this year
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Eckerd Community Alternatives Pinellas/Pasco announces its seventh annual Reunification Day celebration on May 13, 2016. This event honors Pinellas County families who have overcome obstacles in their lives in order to be reunified with their children.
The celebration will take place on Friday, May 13, 2016 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and will feature success stories from families, special guest speakers, refreshments, and children’s activities.
Each year in Pinellas County, hundreds of parents complete the tasks necessary to make their homes safe so that they may be reunified with their children. In Pinellas County, 563 families were reunified in fiscal year 2014/2015. In fiscal year 2015/2016, 445 have been reunified as of March 31, 2016.
Reunification is truly a community success. The parents who are reunified with their children are supported in their communities by family court judges, case workers, service providers, guardians ad litem, foster parents, and relatives, among others. For the seventh year, Eckerd Community Alternatives Pinellas/Pasco will partner with the Florida Department of Children and Families, Directions for Living, Lutheran Services Florida, Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services (PEMHS), Guardian Ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay, Inc., and the Guardian Ad Litem Program – Sixth Judicial Circuit to host this celebration honoring Pinellas parents who have reunified with their children and, as a result, have strengthened our communities.
Reunification Success Story: Meghan Shepherd
In 2013, now 23 year old Meghan found herself alone with two small children to take care of and both fathers incarcerated. Meghan and her children were living in a hotel and she was working nights at a local club. That October, Meghan’s children were removed due to drug use.
Two years passed and Meghan was still making the wrong choices, and even served time herself. It was not until her son’s caregiver at the time had to move out of state that she decided to really kick things into high gear and start her journey of getting her children back.
Meghan spent two hours every Tuesday, one hour every Wednesday and had random weekly drug screens and court dates. She took a city bus or even walked to get wherever she needed to be. After four hard months, she received her completion certificates from all her classes, completed 20 clean drug screenings, and signed her reunification papers.
Today, we celebrate Meghan being reunited with her four year old son, Jullian and her three year old daughter, Skylah. Meghan is a stay at home mom now to her two children and her fiancé’s three children.
*Meghan will be available to share their story with the media.
WHAT: Seventh Annual Reunification Day Celebration
WHEN: Friday, May 13, 2016, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm
WHERE: Pinellas County Justice Center, 14250 49th St. North, Clearwater, FL 33762
WHO: Families who have been reunited; Family Court Judges; Foster Parents; Case Workers and Service Providers.
About Eckerd Kids:
Eckerd Kids is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, that has given much-needed second chances to more than 168,000 children and families since its founding by Jack and Ruth Eckerd in 1968. Eckerd Kids serves more than 25,000 children and their families each year through life-changing child welfare, juvenile justice and workforce development programs in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Eckerd Kids’ mission is to provide and share solutions that promote the well-being of children and families in need of a second chance. To learn more visit www.eckerd.org. Follow us on Twitter at eckerdyouth, Instagram at Eckerd Kids, and “like” us on Facebook at facebook.com/eckerdyouth.