Children Trust Champion for Children Award Ceremony 11/15/13

Children Trust Champion for Children Award Ceremony
Friday, November 15th, noon to 1:30 p.m.
The Jungle Island Treetop Ballroom
1111 Parrot Jungle Trail
Miami, FL
Reservations are $45.00 per person and a table of ten is $400. For more information or to make your reservation online, visit

Immigration reform is currently at the forefront of debate around the country and on Capitol Hill, yet Cheryl Little has spent nearly three decades battling for the rights of immigrant families and unaccompanied minors. For her unwavering support and lifetime achievement on behalf of South Florida children and families, Ms. Little will be honored with The Children’s Trust David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award on Friday, Nov. 15 at the Jungle Island Treetop Ballroom.

Hundreds of children consider this nationally recognized immigration lawyer their “guardian angel” for leading them on a path to freedom and justice in a new land. Ms. Little is the executive director of Americans for Immigrant Justice, formerly known as the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), who has more recently devoted her energies to supporting the “Dreamers,” – youth seeking legal status who were brought to the United States by their parents illegally as children.

The Children’s Trust Champions for Children awards ceremony honors individuals and programs that have achieved greatness in their service to children and families. In honor of this year’s Champion, the event will also celebrate our diverse community in recognition of the many children and families who have immigrated to the United States from around the world and now call Miami-Dade their home. With an expected attendance of more than 700, this annual signature event has become one of the most coveted within the community of child advocates and in all of Miami-Dade County. It serves as an inspiration to others to follow in the path of all the award recipients, who include the following:

State Representative Erik Fresen for Excellence in Public Policy for effectively championing early learning through dedicated public service. Last session Rep. Fresen used his leadership to help restore $5 million in early learning funding that had been cut the previous year. Over $2 million of that funding was returned to Miami-Dade County to fund subsidized childcare slots for some 7,000 children on the waiting list. With the knowledge that their young ones were safe and engaged in learning, these parents were able to return to work to provide critical family support. First elected to the Florida House in 2008, Rep. Fresen has supported education at many levels, lobbying for funding support for Miami-Dade College, and serving as vice chair of the Pre K-12 policy committee where he advocated for higher standards for math and science.

Mimi Schultz for Excellence in Direct Service to Children and Families. For more than three decades, Mimi Schultz, formerly the artistic director of Fantasy Theatre Factory, labored with love to broaden the notion of “stage” to include schools, parks, community organizations, churches, festivals and range of other venues. While Mimi retired earlier this year, the applause continues to resound for this master arts’ educator whose creativity – writing, producing, directing and performing – has touched the lives of upwards of two million students in Miami-Dade County alone.

Family Central Positive Behavior Support Program for Excellence in School Readiness Programming. Family Central’s Positive Behavior Support (PBS) works with teachers and parents, most of them with limited education, to better facilitate early social, emotional and cognitive development in infants, young children, and children with special needs. The program targets childcare centers in primarily low-income areas in the northern part of the county, helping them to provide better care while improving relationships at all levels.

Jewish Community Services of South Florida for Excellence in Youth Programming. Jewish Community Services has been enriching lives and empowering people since its predecessor agency, Jewish Family Service of Greater Miami, was founded in 1920. Today JFS has grown to become one of the largest and most influential social service agencies in the state. JCS’ Youth Aide Mentoring Initiative serves as a cross-age peer mentoring program for female teens and their families. Girls aged 11-14 who are deemed at risk at their schools are paired with high-school aged mentors from similar backgrounds for the course of the school year. A close relationship between mentor and mentee helps to improve academic and social stability with weekly meetings through formal group sessions and a range of activities.

The ConnectFamilias Service Partnership for Excellence in Health, Family or Community Services. This program, which has attracted national attention, works with some 30 community partners in the Little Havana neighborhood to provide a coordinated, holistic system of care for children and families. By engaging and leveraging resources from the many players, the partnership helps to reduce the frustration and inefficiencies of a fragmented system so that residents get the services they need.

The Champions for Children Awards Ceremony is generously sponsored by Borinquen Medical Centers of Miami-Dade.

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