Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Children's Trust, Spending our Money Wisely? Guest Blog by Child Advocate

July Trust Agenda

With all the nonsense going on in Miami-Dade county it is easy to forget the Children’s Trust and its own shenanigans.

If you aren’t familiar with the Trust, it is a governmental organization tasked in 1988 with the bringing services to the community via local small service providers who would know the needs of the grassroots community. At least that is how it was sold to the voters during the initial election campaign. Over the years, it has become a research organization that acts more like an agency providing services rather than a direct funder of other agencies. It has morphed into a tax-payer funded super agency that is political and controlling to the point of killing non-profits that were already serving the communities the Trust moved into.

In recent months, The Trust President-CEO, Modesto Abety-Gutierrez retired (after some internal upheavals) and the Trust went on a “national search” for new leadership. As it goes with most national talent searches, amazingly the board committee found the perfect President-CEO, Charles M. Auslander, already on their staff. Lord only knows how much taxpayer money was spent on that national search.

The Trust is famous for requiring organizations to create “service partnerships” which most agencies do with naturally without direct orders from their funders. Six years ago they required the artificial creation of service partnerships, then killed them three years later by defunding the partnerships, knowing that finding funding during the economic downturn would be nearly impossible.

Then almost immediately, the Trust revived the “service partnership” model and issued a new Proposal for Services and started the whole silliness of creating new partnerships where there had been some already in place and successfully servicing the local communities. Throughout this process, Charles Auslander was privy to the financial and emotional stress put on the agencies.

Auslander was put into place as President of the Trust on the second week of July 2013, and by the last week of July, his Trust had once again killed or almost killed numerous non-profits working in the South Dade area service partnerships. This time around it is even more disruptive to the recipients of the Truancy/family stabilization services provided through the service partnerships to the community and the high risk schools.

What the Trust has done is given Community Health of South Florida, an agency that has never done violence or truancy prevention over $950,000 (multiple millions, if one counts their other Trust contracts) to set-up a new service partnership to replace the ones that already had Trust trained staff performing the services. In fact, because CHI had never done this sort of work before, the Children’s Trust ordered CHI to use two new agencies as sub-contractors. Additionally, the Trust gave the City of Homestead an additional $400,000 to service the same Homestead/Florida City areas as CHI giving extra support to CHI, while dumping the two service partnerships already servicing those areas.

Why is CHI (Brodes Hartley, President) being funded if they can’t do the job without sub-contractors and why on earth, would the taxpayers want to pay CHI to manage a program that they aren't qualified to manage and usurp the case managers at the Children’s Trust? CHI is a medical provider to the community and public schools. Why are they getting an extra $950,000 to perform a contract that they can’t fulfill alone?

I think there is a political agenda here and it hurts the community and now out-of-work employees who were already trained and in place to handle the contract. The Children's Trust has invested time and money in non-profit staff training that is now thrown out the window.

This is a poor start to a new era at the Trust. The Children’s Trust continues to be politically self-serving with their policies and actions. This is not what the taxpayers voted for in 1988, nor is it what people voted for in 2010.


Anonymous said...

Why didn't the Trust require Homestead to subcontract with the existing agencies like they did with CHI?

If they already had several partnerships in Homestead-Florida City why did they give the whole thing to a city which was a part of them. It is sorta of strange to give a city money to provide services in another city don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Without knowing the details of this situation, usually when a funding source withdraws funding, particularly for services they want to provide, when money is available, and for target populations they want to serve, there are administrative, financial, or compliance issues that pose real risks for the funder. In many cases they will seek out organizations with highly evolved administrations with great capabilities to deal with massive regulatory controls and outside monitoring. Employees of the old organizations should seek employment with the new organization.

Anonymous said...

The agencies were up and running. Otherwise, hey would have been closed early on in their 3 year contract. The fact remains that trust put the small agencies applying against a LARGE corporation that has multiple millions in the bank. This corporation had to be instructed to sub-contract out the job because they could not do it.

So all they did was put another layer of administrative costs into the budget. CHI and their sub-contractors both will get admin costs. There was a gift here to CHI, they aren't doing the work, yet they are getting the money.

If there small organization model held true the Trust would make an agency use a fiscal agent...this supposed to be grant funding, and over the years it has become the Trust sub-contracting contractors to sub-contract.

Why is the Trust funding UM and other large systems?

Don't you think that CHI is double dipping? Taking tax dollars from every source possible? You and I are paying CHI through the county, state and federal taxes.

Anonymous said...

The Children's Trust has too much money. Like the hated Downtown Development Authority (DDA) revenues come from taxes. The DDA should be reducing its milage rate. Instead, the DDA creates more expenses to make its bureaucracy even bigger. These groups have no motivation to run efficiently.

Anonymous said...

The Children's Trust has more $$$ than they know what to do with. Every time I attend a local event and read the patrons in the Playbill, the Children's Trust is listed. Ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Community Health of South Florida (CHI) should have a forensic audit of their financial business and the way they do business. Serving patients, with therapist that are non degreed in social services. CHI has a high turnover of employees. Health insurance and pay raises are non existent.
Brodes Hartley makes over $350,000 plus fringe. His staff including his second in charge Blake Hall all make large 6 figure salaries.
The Children's Trust needs to give this money to Jackson Health System, Archdiocese of Miami/Catholic Charities or Baptist Health System.

Anonymous said...

While there are tremendous needs in South Dade, there are few really capable organizations who can effectively write grants, draw money from a variety of sources, and then effectively administer them. Increasingly, funders are requiring research models for human service delivery programs. There is a great need for training and educating those who want to provide services. The Children's Trust might have to train and grow their non-profits. That may need to be a part of their mission.

Anonymous said...

Well, training and growing CHI and FIU and UM should not be their priority. And the Trust being a research center, while it was mentioned in the creation documents, it was not a primary function.... which it has become now.

Let's speak of the Trust Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs summer camp grants. First off, why is the Trust running money through the Department Of Cultural Affairs when they can and do their OWN summer camp RFP?

Then you speak of research: Well, if you have a week long "arts" activity camp, the Trust expects the county to make their non-profit grantees spend time "pretesting" the kids to determine their level of social and other skills on Monday.

Then on Friday, they expect the camp to test the kids again, to see improvements. Let's see, improvement in being friendly by not slapping anyone? Improvements in straight line drawing?

Why can't kids do kid things without the Trust empire building?

It is BS. If the Trust is going to fund activities, then make sure the kids are safe, people are trained and showing up and working with the kids.

Provide services that are needed, where they are needed, and skip the scientific studies of our children. These are kids, not lab rats.

Do not make non-profits hire tech support personnel to figure out a 10 million computer program that has to used calculate your research stats --- a 10 million dollar program that they cant find fixes for the bugs.

Anonymous said...

The Children's Trust is a total scam. They have overpaid employees,they have extremely incompetent employees. Diana Ragbeer, Director of legislative affaits jyst bought a condo on the Miami Beach Causeway for $400,000.00 you have Modesto Abety who is retired but has never been seen without a liquor drink in his hand. He is a liar, a thief and a consescnding idiot. You have Loretta Duvall who just retired, but caused such chaos with employees. You have employees that have been in Federal Prison and other employees who are convicted Felons. Emily Cardenas, Director of Comunications who is continually berating staff members, lies and cheats and spends TCT money extremely ilegally. This entire Orgnization is a scam and using the tax payers. Do they really need all these parties ? Do they really need to pay for television air time such to flash their name on tv. They do not provide 15% of the services they state they do. David Lawrence of course keeps every agency from investigating this Organization.........obviously he has alot of pull...makes you wonder how he has so much power and ahy doesnt the money go to Miami Dade County and provide services under the Mayor ?

Anonymous said...

When you look at the number of non-duplicated recipients of Children’s Trust funding, ask: have they made a real impact county wide? Look at the statistics of children and families under the economic threshold in Miami Dade Vs that the Trust has assisted. Is there a statistical impact? In addition, look at not just this program listed on the article, but others as well, like Switchboard Of Miami – talk about double dipping? Can anyone tell us, with the money they get from the Trust, what is the carved out number of calls they get a year Vs those associated with their other funding. Or is the Trust, who is funded by “Miami-Dade” tax dollars, paying them to answer calls from other parts? Clearly, it is time for a new referendum to defund the Trust!