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DJJ and DCF Present the Fourth Annual National Faith Symposium, “Our Children, Our Future: Restoring Hope”


Department of Juvenile Justice
Meghan Speakes Collins
(850) 544-5387

Department of Children and Families

DCF Press Office

(850) 413-0771

DJJ and DCF Present the Fourth Annual National Faith Symposium, “Our Children, Our Future: Restoring Hope”

Orlando, Fla.— The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) joined forces to host hundreds of the nation’s faith leaders for the Fourth National Faith Symposium, “Our Children, Our Future: Restoring Hope.”

The two-day event brings together faith leaders from around the country to listen to inspiring speakers and share ideas and best practices of integrating faith-based organizations into the work they already do to help at-risk and delinquent children and youth, as well as their families.

Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters said, “Data has proven that less than nine percent of youth who are arrested are violent or chronic juvenile offenders. That’s why it’s so important that youth have positive role models, such as those in the faith community, to help them stay on the right track and avoid the juvenile justice system altogether. The symposium will educate faith leaders about the many ways they can get involved in the lives of our state’s at-risk youth, and I hope this experience engages more people to help us ensure youth involved with DJJ and DCF have the greatest chance to thrive.”

“Faith and hope are small words that can set great things in motion,” said DCF Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo.  “It is inspiring that so many individuals and organizations are coming together to bolster their faith in themselves, each other and the work they do with the hope and confidence of building a better future for the Florida children and families they serve.”

This year’s speakers include Bobby Bowden, the second winningest coach in major college football history; Harris Rosen, entrepreneur and philanthropist focused on helping Florida’s youth; Bob Williamson, renowned businessman and serial entrepreneur; Rev. O. Jermaine Simmons, Sr., a fourth generation preacher and pastor who serves at Jacob Chapel; and Donna Wilcox, a Rosen Foundation Scholarship recipient who graduated from the University of Central Florida.    

The symposium will feature workshops on empowering parents, youth engagement, foster care and adoption recruitment, domestic child sex trafficking and much more. The complete list of workshops is available at www.faithsymposium.com

What they’re saying…

“Last year’s Faith Symposium was energizing and inspiring. The Guardian ad Litem Program has so many people of faith that serve as volunteer child advocates that this Faith Symposium is a great gathering for us to expand ways together to make a difference in the lives of children and families,” said Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director, Florida Guardian ad Litem Program.

"Attending The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Faith Symposium is a wonderful way to network and learn. Over the past four years, it has been my honor to not only attend this important statewide symposium but to also present topics such as Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, Keeping Our Kids Safe in Our Churches, and Faith-Based Solutions for First Time Juvenile Offenders. Networking with others and learning...What a great combination to assist Florida's children,” said Thomas Gillan, CLET, CLC - Director, The National Institute for Human Trafficking Research and Training, a program of PSU Crisis Management and Training Group, Inc.

“The Faith Symposium was an awesome networking opportunity to meet other faith-based organizations offering services to Department of Juvenile Justice. Living Stones International, as a Children and Family Outreach Ministry, is proud to partner with DJJ and DCF. Being in the midst of speakers who are giving back to the community was invaluable knowing others are also standing with us in the gap for youth. It gives us the motivation to fight another day,” said Pastor Gary Montgomery, Pastor and Founder of Living Stones International, Inc., a Marriage, Family and Education Ministry.

"I look forward to the Faith Symposium with great anticipation. Last year's excitement, education and inspiration was an awesome outcome. There is no better place to connect with folk across the faith spectrum who are genuinely concerned about making a positive impact of our country by uplifting our children. Come and help us keep hope alive,” said Rev. Kenny Irby, Director of the Write Field Program at The Poynter Institute.

For more information, including workshop descriptions, please click here.