TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Foster families in Hillsborough County are turning to 8 On Your Side for help. They claim they haven’t received their monthly checks or their clothing allowances for back-to-school.
“We fight every day,” said Stacy Thompson, a foster mom of four. “At the end of the day, it should be the state helping us fight for these children. At the end of the day, we are foster parents fighting, advocating for them to make sure they have everything.”
It comes as the Children’s Network of Hillsborough County took the reins of the foster care system from the troubled agency, Eckerd Connects, on July 1.
The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida won an $87 million annual contract without submitting a bid to run the Hillsborough County foster system. It has served as the lead foster care agency for Charlotte, Glades, Lee, Hendry and Collier Counties for the past 19 years.
8 On Your Side tracked down the CEO at the children’s board meeting Tuesday morning. Nedereh Salim was transparent about missing checks and the struggles her organization faces since taking over.
Salim said she’s confident that within two weeks all checks will be sent out and this will be resolved.
“First thing I say to them is: I apologize for any inconvenience or a break in the payment system,” Salim said. “I asked them to please reach out to us. We are hand delivering checks. We’re doing everything in our power, but it is not our intent to put our families in a bind. We’re grateful that they’re taking care of the kids.”
Hillsborough is the second largest child welfare district in the state. Salim said there are more than 3,100 kids under the supervision of the Children’s Network of Hillsborough.
“This is a community-based care system, meaning our success will depend on how well we collaborate and partner with the community and vice versa.”
If you have not received your check, call the Children’s Network at (656) 400-2600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.