AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Byline: TODD RUGER email@example.com
SARASOTA -- The Sarasota Family YMCA runs the best-funded foster care program in the state and has been heralded as a pioneer in the field.
But state records show the YMCA still struggles with some of the same problems that caused Florida to privatize its foster care in the first place.
The YMCA's program in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties is the longest-running private foster care agency in the state. And it is perched in a county with the demographics for success -- wealth, community resources and few children.
While state reviews show the YMCA has been on the verge of being a model program for years, a series of reports this year has questioned the YMCA's ability to provide safe homes for children.
The latest, a state report released Monday, showed the program lagged behind other agencies on key measures of child safety during fiscal year 2004. It was among the worst agencies for the number of foster children who re-enter the system less than a year after they leave it, and also scored poorly for the number of times a child is bounced from home to home.
The agency's ratings show improvement this fiscal year, according to state data, and YMCA executives largely shrug off the report, saying their agency instead looks to semiannual evaluations by the state to see how it's doing.
"It's got some good things in it," Lee Johnson, executive vice president of the YMCA's social services division, said of the latest study. "It's got some things we're working on."
He said the YMCA has hired three additional counselors who will work as a sort of crisis team that can help assess problems as they arise and determine which programs will help …