Escambia Children’s Trust launches this month

Now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed five members to complete the Escambia Children’s Trust board of directors, the nonprofit is set to launch later this month when the board meets on Tuesday, April 27.

Inweekly is hearing the board will elect a new chairman, a spot currently held by School Board member Patty Hightower.  The buzz is board members are being lobbied to choose attorney Stephanie White as the new chair.

Buzz Ritchie has apparently taken himself out of consideration for the interim executive director, leaving a behind-the-scenes struggle to either find a replacement to nominate at the meeting or for the board to advertise for the position.

The board needs to conduct a needs assessment and create a budget by the end of June. A white paper by Will Dunaway recommends the board use data already accumulated by Achieve Escambia, school district and other agencies that work with children.  The Board of County Commissioners has directed county staff to provide administrative and legal support.

The week before the Escambia Children’s Trust board meeting, CivicCon will host a Zoom Town Hall meeting with an expert panel to discuss best practices for Children’s Trusts. The event will be 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22. The panel will include Kelley Parris, the Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Children’s Council; Sean Boyle, the Executive Director of the St. Lucie Children’s Services Council and Michele Watson, the CEO of the Florida Children’s Council in Tallahassee.


2 thoughts on “Escambia Children’s Trust launches this month

  1. CJ,
    Actually the voters approved the trust by referendum in the last election – 98,688 to 63,203.

  2. Non-profit? I think the Escambia Children’s Trust is an “independent special district,” a governmental body and part of county government with its own separate power to impose a property tax. Here’s the link to information on a state website about the Escambia Children’s Trust:
    To be clear for county commission voters in 2022, the BCC authorized the creation of this new part of county government armed with its own taxing power. It is a tax increase. The BCC voted to increase property taxes. It is all them. State law authorizes the BCC to do everything the Escambia Children’s Trust might do and do it without increasing taxes. That is not what was done here. County voters were subject to an intense political persuasion campaign by a political committee that includes a lot of supporters who live in Santa Rosa County where they will not have to pay this extra tax. The group’s chairperson lives in Gulf Breeze. Here’s a link to information about the political committee:

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