A Message From The Chief Executive Officer
Chief Executive Officer, Julie Swindler, LCSW
"Challenge is a fact of life. Making adjustments in each life stage, coping with unexpected setbacks, or handling the daily stresses of life can turn a crisis into an opportunity for growth."
Ben Silliman, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension
This past year has kept our agency extremely busy as we have continued striving to be a social services leader in Palm Beach County, while serving the individual needs of over 1,000 families through our five distinct programs. We have continued to build our expertise in infant mental health, focusing on birth to age 5, as well as our ambition of promoting self-sufficiency within our families.
We are very proud to announce that in March the Council of Accreditation (COA) announced we were an accredited agency. The COA accreditation process involves a detailed review and analysis of both an organization’s administrative operations and its service delivery practices. We are measured against national standards of best practice. These standards emphasize that services are accessible, appropriate, culturally responsive, evidence based, and outcomes-oriented. In addition, they confirm that the services are provided by a skilled and supported workforce, and that all individuals are treated with dignity and respect. We have been working toward this standard for some time, and are proud to be one of only a few agencies in Palm Beach County to have earned this prestigious recognition.
Through the COA process, the organization developed a shared leadership philosophy. We have harnessed the combined experience, knowledge, talents, and creativity of our entire leadership team to position the agency for continuous quality improvement and program success for the coming years! To find help us build even more successful programs, we have transformed our development department to include two: a director of development and a director of communications. As a result of shared leadership, Families First has increased its social media presence, started holding monthly informational meetings, and experienced our most successful luncheon to date. The 6th Annual Children’s Day Luncheon hosted a record attendance, national speakers, a professional athlete, and awarded our first ever Betty Bell Scholarship.
Also in 2012, Families First was named one of the top 10 women-led not-for-profit organizations in Florida by The Commonwealth Institute South Florida. In December, the agency received over 200 toys from a gift gathering party hosted by a board member and committee member, which will directly benefit our families during the holiday season.
Finally, we have created the Families First Foundation. This has been a goal of our agency that we hope will be a catalyst to help us obtain additional support from individuals, trusts, and charitable foundations. The Foundation Board was formed, and they have created a mission statement, by-laws and are in the process of selecting a planned giving platform. We have accomplished many things over the last year, and we hope you will join us as we continue to make a positive impact in our community.