Now the Escambia Children’s Trust has a full board, what happens next?
Will Dunaway of the Clark Partington law firm did a white paper on the best practices for a Children’s Trust for the Studer Community Institute. He interviewed Michele Watson, Executive Officer of the Florida Children’s Council, Kelley Parris, Executive Director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, and Sean Boyle, Chief Executive of the Children’s Services Council of St. Lucie County.
For the Escambia Children’s Trust to levy property taxes for 2021-22 fiscal year, the board must assess the needs of the children in the county and prepare and submit a budget to the Escambia County Commission by July 1.
The experts recommended that Escambia not “reinvent the wheel” in its first year and use the data that already exist. Dunaway shared with Inweekly that Achieve Escambia already has data and dashboards to help with the assessment. Other existing children service providers in the county can provide their scope of service and population served, systems for measuring success and data to support such success. Then the board can determine a strategy to coordinate efforts to maximize resources.
He recommended, “Focus first on low hanging fruit; build early successes.”
Since the Children’s Trust does not have funding for staff until after the taxes are collected, the initial needs assessment and budget can be completed by the board using the resources of existing children services providers in the county and the Florida Children’s Council as well as those of other Children’s Councils in the State, according to experts interviewed. The county commmissioners have already offered their staff to help.