Career Opportunities That Make a Difference

Lutheran Services Florida (LSF) envisions a world where children are safe, families are strong, and communities are vibrant. We are hiring for several bilingual residential services positions.

Are you interested in making a difference in the lives of others and serving children at work? We are searching for a Lead Case Manager, Lead Teacher, Case Manager, Teacher, Youth Care Coordinator and Youth Care Specialist. and more!

Visit LSF’s career page to learn more and apply: https://www.lsfnet.org/careers/

We offer an incredible benefits package including medical, dental, vision, 13 paid holidays plus 1 floating holiday, a generous PTO plan, 403(b) retirement plan with 3% discretionary employer match, employer paid life insurance, long term disability, teledoc, health and dependent care FSA, employee assistance plan (EAP), and tuition reimbursement.

Lutheran Services Florida embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion in all business practices. LSF is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.

New Program: LSF Connecting Family Paths (CFP)

We are excited to announce and welcome a new legacy program, LSF Connecting Family Paths (CFP). CFP is a diversion services program in Pinellas County that is contracted through the lead community-based care agency, Eckerd Connects.

Each family served by LSF CFP will be assigned a certified child welfare case manager to provide an exceptional level of engagement, bring resources in to eliminate risk factors and prevent children from being placed in out of home care. LSF CFP is partnering with Family Enrichment Services and Sail Future to bring trauma-informed expertise to intervention services.

Family Enrichment Services provides counseling, comprehensive behavioral health assessments, post adoption support, medication management and parenting support groups.

Sail Future is a broad program also serving high risk youth through residential treatment programs that provide mental health and job training services and participate in sailing journeys. Sail Future’s strategy for LSF CFP’s diversion services will be to provide afternoon and weekend therapeutic sailing experiences with the multisystemic counselor, case manager and family to support relationship development.

LSF CFP is a vital part of our mission in building strong families and keeping children safe in their homes by providing essential intervention services to decrease the risk of abuse and neglect.

TAMPA BAY WORLD REFUGEE DAY 2020

World Refuge Day is celebrated each year to honor those who have been forced to flee their home countries and have journeyed to safety. Join us on this webinar to listen to the experiences of local refugees and to learn how you can get involved in doing the work of welcoming.

JUNE 19, 10:30AM-NOON
Advanced Registration Required!

Family crisis Counseling Available to Southwest Families

Fort Myers, FL – Times are certainly stressful for parents – layoffs, virtual school and heighten anxiety are just some of the side effects coronavirus is causing among families in Southwest Florida.

Families can connect with Lutheran Services Florida (LSF), a nonprofit supporting families in crisis who have found creative ways to connect with clients remotely and offer strategies through our family crisis counseling and mental health programs.

Stop Now and Plan program (SNAP) is our program dedicated to children’s mental health and teaches kids to stop and think before they act. The safe at home measures put in place leaves children with idle time, which can be hard for parents dealing with challenging behaviors.

“We understand the challenges parents, youth and families are facing during these uncertain times.  Lutheran Services Florida is open and here to assist our community with the struggles and challenges the community may be facing,” Shareet Pennino Director of LSF Southwest Region said. “As of now, our counseling, case management, and Oasis runaway and homeless youth shelter are in full operation.  We are ready and here to  guide you in these troubling times in the right direction.”

SNAP is a preventative model that intervenes before kids enter the juvenile justice system. LSF partners with and accepts referrals from local law enforcement agencies, the Juvenile Assessment Center and all schools in District 20 as well as directly from parents in need.

To learn more about SNAP and crisis counseling services provided by LSF in Southwest Florida, please contact the administrative office at 239-278-1030.

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Media Contact:

Terri Durdaller, LSF Associate VP of Communications

Terri.durdaller@lsfnet.org

813-802-8790

 

 

Social distancing and Alcohol/substance abuse

The mounting stress from self-isolation and social distancing — combined with the recent announcement that Florida bars and night clubs will be closed for 30 days — has many experts concerned about a potential spike in alcohol and substance abuse.

Research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that alcohol consumption typically increases dramatically during and after catastrophic events like September 11 and Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Christine Cauffield, CEO of LSF Health Systems and clinical psychologist, shares her concerns that the coronavirus could trigger a similar uptick in alcohol use disorders as well as share signs that you or a loved one may be consuming alcohol at unhealthy levels.

The connection between an increase in drinking and drug use following national catastrophes:

    • Very similar to the links we’ve seen between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans and drug abuse, studies show a significant link between Alcohol Use Disorder and disasters — both natural and man-made.
    • More families are working from home and balancing homeschooling and related childcare issues, which has the potential to increase stress levels even further. Not to mention the financial stresses this may put on local families.
    • All these factors can increase stressors and lead those prone to alcoholism or drug abuse to lean more heavily on those substances.
    • State officials made the decision to close bars and nightclubs for 30 days. This may limit alcohol consumption among social drinkers, but those with tendencies related to alcohol and drug abuse may become even more vulnerable.
    • For these individuals, drinking at home — often alone — can be even more dangerous than drinking at a bar or nightclub. That’s because bartenders and waitresses are trained to stop patrons from drinking too much.
    • Drinking alone at home is also often associated with depression and other related problems.

The body reacts to stress and alcohol can compound that stress:

    • Physically, when the body is challenged by stressful events, it responds by shifting normal metabolic processes into high gear. The brain directs key changes in the levels of hormones in the body.
    • These changes target specific organs, preparing the body to fight stress factors.
    • The hormone cortisol increases available energy by increasing blood sugar levels and mobilizing fat and protein metabolism to help the body respond quickly and efficiently to whatever is stressing it out.
    • Heavy drug and alcohol use exacerbate the hormone imbalances and impact how the body responds to stress. It can create a vicious downward spiral.

If your drinking, or the drinking of someone you know, shows signs of becoming a problem?

There are many organizations in our area that offer help to those fighting alcohol or drug use problems. If you prefer to try self-help strategies before you take the step of seeking professional help, there are many proven strategies.

    • Keep track of how much you drink. Find ways that work for you. Make check marks on a kitchen calendar or enter notes in a mobile phone notepad.
    • Find alternatives. If drinking occupies a lot of your time, then fill that time by developing new, healthy activities, hobbies, and relationships.
    • Avoid “triggers.” If certain people or places make you drink even when you don’t want to, avoid them. If certain activities, times of day, or feelings trigger the urge, plan something else to do instead of drinking.
    • Know your “no.” You’re likely to be offered a drink at times when you don’t want one – even at home. Have a polite, convincing “no, thanks” ready. The faster you can say no to these offers, the less likely you are to give in.

LSF Health Systems works with several partner organizations in Northeast Florida that can provide help for people in need of mental healthcare and substance or alcohol abuse issues.

Call our crisis line at any time at 1-877-229-9098 

LSF COVID-19 Response

Safe Children

Child protection and ensuring child well-being in Florida is done through a community-based care approach. Through our local partnerships we provide crucial counseling services for youth and families in crisis, through LSF Grace Place encompassing four youth shelters, 7 group homes and three Case Management Organizations supporting the child welfare system.

  • While it is imperative that caseworkers continue to ensure the well-being of children in care, that imperative must be balanced against the health of caseworkers, children in care, and all of the people with whom they come into contact. The monthly caseworker visit requirement remains in place, but we are modifying our policy to permit such visits to be conducted by videoconferencing in these current extraordinary circumstances.
  • In our shelters, we are reuniting families where it is safe to do so while also taking the temperature of kids daily and checking for fever symptoms. All non-essential visits have been limited.
  • Our development staff is working on securing entertainment and enrichment options for our youth outside of social media and video games, while also adhering to social distancing.

Strong Families

Every family deserves the opportunity to succeed, no matter their circumstances. We serve more than 6,000 children and families each year in Duval, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Palm Beach counties through our Head Start and Early Head Start programs by working to close the achievement gap and serve the family as a whole.

  • Each of our classrooms are closed to in alignment with the school systems to children and families. However, our staff is still working. Our teachers and staff may not be in the classrooms, but they are still connecting with parents and serving as a resource. Our educational leaders are designing remote learning plans and strategizing around the challenges that brings for families without computers, the internet and food while they are out of the classrooms.

Vibrant Communities

In the Northeast corner of the state, our LSF Health Systems program serves a 23-county region of more than 50 providers helping those who are uninsured or underinsured struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.

  • Our priority is ensuring the providers are ready to handle the increased need this pandemic is causing and planning for any capacity issues that may arise. Dr. Christine Cauffield is an expert in this field and is making media appearances sharing tips and coping strategies for dealing with isolation and fears, among other timely topics.

We are privileged to be on the front lines assisting refugees seeking a brighter future in South, Southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area and by creating a welcoming environment and acclimating them to their new homes.

  • We recognize this population is possibly the most riddled with fear. They are living in a country they are unfamiliar with while facing an unknown pandemic. We are connecting them to seasonal job opportunities and encouraging them to seek medical care if they feel sick.

LSF Adult Advocacy Services serves indigent people with limited means as well as those with means to pay for services in Southwest Florida and in the Panhandle. The program provides protection, advocacy and financial management for those who are unable to care for themselves.

  • The elderly is the most at-risk population if they contract coronavirus. With 95 percent of the clients we serve in nursing homes, our top priority is to protect them while maintaining remote services. We have suspended face-to-face visits between our case managers and clients, but virtual meetings are taking place so we can continue to address loneliness, isolation and other fears.

Sarasota veteran gets a surprise of a lifetime

“This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever had.” Jay, a Vietnam veteran born and raised in Sarasota, said as he put his feet up on his new couch. “I just can’t believe anyone would do this for me!”

Today is moving day for Jay, a Vietnam Veteran born and raised in Sarasota suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). LSF Adult Advocacy Services has handled Jay’s finances for nearly 20 years. He was living in deplorable conditions for some time, but wouldn’t move because of anxiety and triggers from his PTSD. He is also legally blind and did not want to leave his current trailer park because it is familiar to him with his limited eye sight.

LSF employees Tammy and Renee wouldn’t give up on Jay. They convinced him now was the time. The two women found a newer, cleaner mobile home in the same park then got busy finding local donors, nonprofits and businesses to make this Jay’s very own home.

Thanks to Heroes Welcome Home, Shelby Estate Sales, Wal-Mart, Knights of Columbus, Tom Latronica, Sarasota Senior Advocacy Council, Debbie Cole, Community Resources Council, Sarasota County Aging Network, Manatee Habitat for Humanity Jessup’s Appliances and many others, this has now become a reality!

Today was certainly a day of celebration. Jay’s former mobile home was about 100 sq feet with no air conditioner. It was so small and cluttered that he literally had to shimmy around furniture to move from the kitchen to the bedroom. His new mobile home is a sprawling 1000 sq feet with an outside patio decked out with furniture. A place for him to relax in the fresh air.

“This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever had,” Jay said as he put his feet up on his new couch.

“I just can’t believe anyone would do this for me,” Jay exclaimed!

Every time someone new showed up to install appliances, set up cable or bring food, you would hear, “Tammy!” That’s Jay yelling for the one person in the world he trusts – his Case Manager.

“He doesn’t understand the enormity of the fact that this home and everything in it is his. He owns it,” said Renee, Community Liaison for LSF in Sarasota.

A New beginning

LSF Palm Beach Head Start Parent Meets with Tallahassee Legislators

By Tamar Belizaire
Head Start Parent from LSF Palm Beach Head Start 

As a Head Start parent here in Palm Beach, Florida I was honored and excited to meet with local legislators while in Tallahassee, for Children’s Week. We had a great discussion about the need to support our Head Start programs.

Thanks to LSF Head Start, I am happy and proud to say that in a few months I will be graduating with my AA and I will have the opportunity to enter the Nursing program this year.

I spoke about the positive impact Head Start has on so many families across the country, including my own. Two years ago, my life took a difficult turn because of family issues. I had to make sacrifices to meet the obligations for my son and me like leaving him with babysitters who were nearly strangers, working two jobs and neglecting my studies. But since my connection with LSF, once again my life changed but in a positive direction.

Now my son goes to a place where I know that he is protected, educated and watched by good people. I finally have the peace of mind that I needed to work on my personal development. Thanks to LSF Head Start, I am happy and proud to say that in a few months I will be graduating with my AA and I will have the opportunity to enter the Nursing program this year.

My story helped me to emphasize the transformational impact Head Start has on Palm Beach County’s children, and how critically we need support.

Our leaders in Washington must continue to step up on behalf of our most vulnerable early learners. Every child deserves the Head Start advantage!

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is Human trafficking awareness month, shining light on an issue impacting some of the most vulnerable communities in our nation and state.  According to the Human trafficking Hotline, Florida ranks third in U.S. in human trafficking cases reported. LSF’s Trafficking Victim Assistance Program works with trafficking victims to help them rebuild their life and get a new start, like was the case for J.M. – a survivor of human trafficking here in Florida who we first met three years ago. (We are using the survivor’s initials to protect his anonymity.)

Every day J.M.’s heart ached with regret. He would have done anything to see his family again.

J.M. came to the United States in 2011 under a legal work visa, lured by morally bankrupt traffickers using the promise of higher wages and a better life for his family. He was told that he’d be able to send money home to them in Honduras, and that eventually they would be able to join him for a new, prosperous future in America.

The promise of prosperity given to J.M. turned out to be a living nightmare.

For five years, he was forced to work abusively long hours for meager wages while being restricted from communication with outsiders. He was housed in the unsanitary conditions of an overcrowded trailer with no AC or shower, sleeping on the floor without pillows and blankets. Any objections were met with threats to his family back home in Honduras. Every day J.M.’s heart ached with regret. He would have done anything to see his family again.

Miraculously, J.M. was able to escape after making sure that his family had moved to another area of Honduras, safe from the traffickers.

We are happy to share that J.M was reunited with his family and was able to celebrate the holiday season together for the first time in almost 10 years.

BE PART OF THE SOLUTION

To report a trafficking tip, call the
National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888
a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

If you suspect someone is in immediate danger, please call 911.

RED FLAGS

Learn how to recognize potential human trafficking victims and how to report it.

REQUEST A SPEAKER

Would you like to request an LSF representative to come speak on how to prevent human trafficking or provide on-site training?

On this Parent’s Day

Parent’s Day is celebrated on the 4th Sunday of July. It’s a day that commemorates parenthood and appreciates all parents including mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers, stepmothers and stepfathers, adoptive parents and foster mothers and fathers, as well as their contribution to society.

On this special day, we want to celebrate those who chose to open their hearts to some of the most vulnerable children within our communities– foster parents.

Hattie Parsons, LSF Foster Parent.

“Parent’s Day as a foster parent to me means being an active mother in their lives.  I treat every child as my own,” said Hattie Parson, an LSF foster parent. “I work very well with birth parents, even taking them on vacation with me.  They know that I have an open-door policy. We all have a goal of reunification.”

Lutheran Services Florida served 4,600 children in foster care in 2018 and foster parents provided love, comfort, guidance and reassurance to foster children as they worked with the families to be reunited.

Dyecol and Taneasha Walker, LSF foster parents, shared a little more of their experience as foster parents.

What does Parent’s Day mean to you as a foster parent?

Parent’s Day is a special day on the calendar of foster parents because it is a grand occasion where parents are venerated and appreciated for their hard work, love and dedication that they have meted out to children that have come under their care.

How is it working with birth parents?

For the most part we have had a harmonious relationship with the biological parents. There is always an open line of communication to ensure that all the parties involved are able to maintain an optimal level of civility, thus reducing the shock on the child.

Dyecol and Taneasha Walker, LSF Foster Parents.

What would you say to encourage others to become foster parents?

Children are our future and sometimes dysfunctionalities threaten the potential spark that these children are capable of. Hence, every potential foster parent has a critical role in ensuring the best outcome of each child. It is gratifying knowing that for a period of time you are able to offer care and to positively impact the life of a child.

Becoming a foster parent

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW TO BECOME A FOSTER PARENT IN LEE COUNTY?

Fill out the information below and an LSF representative will be in touch with you with more information.

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