TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County works to help local children and their families live their best lives, but that mission is never easy. Now the board has a new leader charged with making it all happen.

Rebecca Bacon is no stranger to the children’s board; she’s been there for 16 years as the Manager of the Administrative Services Organization (ASO) and was later promoted to Director. In total, Bacon has more than thirty years of experience in children’s services.

Bacon replaces Kelley Parris, who served as Executive Director for 10 years.  

Bacon’s passion is children and families. As a mom of three herself, she knows it’s an important job.

“The Children’s Board is able to fill in the gaps and help get involved with families early to help prevent involvement in some of the more complex systems of children and families,” Bacon said.

The board invests in the health and well-being of all children and families in Hillsborough County. In 2022, the Children’s Board invested $50 million in grants to more than 66 nonprofits and 110 different programs that help children and families.

Bacon said her team has been involved in participating in town halls and has released its 2023 final report. She said the findings of some of the critical needs in our community include: the housing crisis, childcare and mental health.

We also sat down and asked her about the county’s child welfare system.

“When I first came to Tampa, I was a child abuse investigator, which was a really difficult job,” Bacon said.

She said the system has become more complex and challenging as our county grows.

“Our role at the Children’s Board is to try to prevent kids from entering that system and providing the support and resources for those families because we know that the best place for children to be is with their parents,” Bacon said.

Bacon knows there are some cases where children must go into the system and while it’s not her organization’s mission, they are there to partner, provide services and address traumas.

“I think it is important for people to come together at different levels, so it’s important for funding agencies to come together and talk about challenges and come up with creative solutions and that includes our elected officials and different parts of government,” Bacon said.

The Children’s Board offers seven resource centers throughout the county for families seeking assistance.