Occasionally I’ll take a break from writing about Royal Caribbean to comment on my involvements outside of overseeing a global cruise line. Yes there are challenges involved in doing my day job, participating in two major “other” activities one of which I will describe here, spending quality time with my family, training intensively for running races and taking table tennis lessons. But these are all things I’m dedicated to doing.
For the last three years I have been Chairman of the Board of Trustees of a wonderful organization named Our Kids of Miami-Dade, Inc. I was also on the Board for three years before that, overseeing the System of Care Committee. Our Kids is the lead agency in Miami-Dade and Monroe (i.e., the Keys) Counties for foster care and related services. We are responsible for the system of care that must deliver quality and safety to approximately 4,000 children who have been placed under the state of Florida’s supervision because their parents were judged to be at least temporarily unfit to be parents. We receive about $95 million per year in funding from the state to do our job, plus there is federal Medicaid funding that supports the system of care.
Child welfare is a world at least as complex as and often a lot less fun than the world of Royal Caribbean. Foster care systems around the U.S. are at best challenged to deliver appropriate care to the children and sometimes they outright fail. I’m proud to say that Our Kids and our seven associated “Full Case Management Agencies” together with the Department of Children and Families, the judiciary and many others have improved virtually all of the performance metrics on which we are judged by the state over the last three years. There is a great commitment throughout the system to continue this improvement. If at all possible, we want to achieve successful adoptions or reunifications for the children. If that is not possible, we must prepare the children to age out of the system as prepared as possible for the rest of their lives. Our Kids has a dedicated staff under the direction of Fran Allegra and a first rate Board of Trustees that will not settle for anything less than meaningful progress.
Over the next few months I will hand the Chairman’s gavel over to my successor Carlos de la Cruz, Jr. It has been a great honor to have sat in the Chairman’s seat with so much on the line for our community’s less fortunate children. Despite the many challenges we faced, this has been an extraordinarily rewarding experience. I leave knowing that my colleagues will continue to build on our success and make a meaningful difference in the lives of many families in our community. I wish them every success moving forward on their important mission.