FAQs

Children's Services Council of Martin County FAQs (21 entries)

 

 

What is the Children's Services Council of Martin County?

The Children's Services Council of Martin County is an independent special district of local government, authorized by Florida Statute 125.901 and created by Local Ordinance #348 on June 28, 1988. The Council provides a dedicated funding source for children's programs proven to positively impact the quality of life for all residents of Martin County.

Given the ability to exist by the state legislature, the Council was then created by voters through local referendum and sanctioned by local government.  The Council is governed by a board of local elected officials, governor appointees, and statutory designees.  Visit The Council page to learn more about the current members of the Children’s Services Council of Martin County.

The purpose of the Children's Services Council is to plan, coordinate, fund and evaluate programs that serve children and families in Martin County.  The Council also aims to address public policy issues relating to children. 

 

Who is the Children’s Services Council of Martin County?

The Children's Services Council of Martin County is composed of the following ten members:  

Five ex-officio members who are appointed by virtue of the office or position they hold and serve as long as they are in their respective office or position, including:  

  • Juvenile Court Judge 
  • Member of Martin County Board of County Commissioners 
  • Member of Martin County School Board 
  • District 15 Administrator of the Florida Department of Children and Families (formerly Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services) or his/her designee 
  • Superintendent of Martin County Schools 

 and 

Five Florida Governor appointees to serve terms of four years each. 

Members represent the diversity of this community and bring to the table the many divergent views and interests of the populations served.  Since inception, 53 individuals have served on the Council. 

Visit The Council page to learn more about the current members of the Children’s Services Council of Martin County. The Council is supported by a 10-person staff. Of the funds collected by homeowners in Martin County, 8.7% go toward administrative costs, which also includes substantial programmatic and fiscal oversight of funded programs.

 

What is the mission of the Children’s Services Council of Martin County?

The mission of Children's Services Council of Martin County is to enhance the lives of the children of Martin County and to enable them to attain their full potential.

 

What are the goals of the Children’s Services Council of Martin County?

The goals of the Children's Services Council of Martin County are:

  • To promote the social, psychological, and physical growth of all children and youth in Martin County. 
  • To develop and allocate resources to create and thereafter support a comprehensive, coordinated, and accountable system of program services, based upon and responsive to the needs of children and their families in Martin County. 
  • To advocate on behalf of children and their families and to address public policy issues which impact children. 
  • To provide for early identification of and assistance to at-risk children. 
  • To establish a creative environment for responding to children's needs. 
  • To serve as a conduit for funding and training resources and as a coordinating umbrella for the benefit of the service community, attending to children in Martin County. 
  • To establish a community standard by which to assess the viability of proposed and existent children's programs in addressing the needs of Martin County children.

 

Where does the funding come from that is allocated by the Children’s Services Council of Martin County?

To implement its mandate, the Children's Services Council of Martin County is empowered by local referendum to access an ad valorem tax up to one-half mill ($0.50 per $1,000) of non-exempt property valuation. 

The maximum rate was been established by Martin County voters by Local Ordinance #348 passed on June 28, 1988.  Annually, the Council adopts a proposed millage rate and budget within that limit.  Two Truth-in-Millage (TRIM) public hearings are held, where citizens are invited to comment on the proposed millage and budget.  Following the two TRIM public hearings, the Council votes to adopt a millage and budget for the next fiscal year that runs from October 1 to September 30.

This process operates In The Sunshine; to attend a meeting and submit a public comment to the Council, please reference our meeting calendar.

 

What is a millage rate?

A millage rate is a tax rate charged against a property's taxable value to determine the amount of property tax due.  The rate expresses the dollars of tax per one thousand dollars of taxable value (i.e., a 5 mill levy on $1,000 of property equals $5).  The Council has the authority to levy up to 0.5 mills.  Taxable value is the value that is used to make the calculation.  The value is determined by subtracting all the exemption amounts from the market value. The current market value is determined by Martin County's Property Appraiser.  Plainly stated, the market value is the amount a willing buyer would pay, and a willing seller would accept, for a property. Click here for the Martin County Property Appraiser’s website for more information.

What is the current millage rate for the Children's Services Council of Martin County?

The Children's Services Council of Martin County has the ability to levy up to .5 mill per property (i.e., a 5 mill levy on $1,000 of assessed property value equals $5).  The millage rate for fiscal year 2013-14 was set at .3693 mills. That translated into $55.40 annually for a homeowner in Martin County who owns a home with an assessed value of $200,000 (less $50,000 Homestead Exemption). For a homeowner whose home is assessed at $100,000 (less $50,000 Homestead Exemption), the rate translates to $18.47. That's less than the cost of two large pizzas every year!  Click here for additional information on the millage history.

 

What does the Children's Services Council of Martin County cost a taxpayer?

The cost of the Children's Services Council of Martin County to a taxpayer is much less than most people might think.  

As a dedicated source of funding for children's issues and services in Martin County, the Children's Services Council of Martin County is authorized by Florida statute to levy up to .50 cents for every $1,000 of taxable property value (or “1/2 mill”). 

For our community, let's assume that your house is assessed at the median taxable value, which for fiscal year 2013-14 is $164,000.  At the Children's Services Council's current millage rate of .3693, a taxpayer who owns a home with an assessed value of $164,000, less the homestead exemption of $50,000, will pay $42.10 or just 81 cents a week. 

For the amount, homeowners are investing in the future of Martin County, as these funds are used to promote the greatest positive impact for children and families.  The total budget for the Children's Services Council for fiscal year 2013-14 is $9,557,190.  Of that amount, 89% of the budget is committed to services for children and families in this community through programs and initiatives previously approved for funding by the Council.  Only 8.7% is dedicated to General Government, and 1.6% is committed to collection fees.  Because fiscal accountability is paramount, the Children's Services Council of Martin County requires strict accounting and programmatic oversight of the funds distributed to each program.

 

Why is a dedicated funding source critical for children and families in Martin County?

Children make up about 17 percent of our population, but children are 100 percent of our future.  Yet because kids don’t vote, they lack representation in government.  A dedicated funding source helps ensure a stable, recurring source of dollars for children's services WITHOUT concern for politics.

Still, some people ask:  But don’t we already pay taxes for this?

Not really.  Most public dollars spent to benefit children are used toward traditional education, such as public schools.  But education is only a part of the services that children need to grow up to become functioning, contributing members of society.  Children need much more support to develop socially, economically, physically and intellectually.  They need access to health care, guidance toward healthy lifestyles, and good parenting.  Social services that prevent abuse, neglect, crime, school failure, and teen pregnancy are vital.  School-age kids need quality after-school programs because many parents are working outside of the home.  Young children need quality child care to nurture their development and help them to be ready to succeed in school and in life.  Funding from the Children's Services Council of Martin County supports these programs and services.

Due to the difficult economic climate, state and local governments have reduced budgets.  Many services critical for children and families are dramatically scaled back.  Children’s Services Councils were established to supplement and complement government funding–not replace it.  But with these drastic cutbacks, the Children's Services Council also becomes a safety net for children and families in Martin County.

Raising children is our society’s most challenging and important job.  Early intervention and investment are essential for success.  Children left to find their own way too often get lost, and lost children too often become lost adults.  A dedicated source of funding, such as the Children's Services Council, helps ensure that children have the opportunity to receive some of the support and nurturing that they deserve and the chance to grow up to become healthy, contributing members of our community.

 

Who benefits from programs supported by the Children’s Services Council of Martin County?

The entire community benefits from programs supported by the Children's Services Council of Martin County, including children, parents, grandparents, educators, law enforcement officers, judges and the juvenile justice system, as well as, doctors, health care workers, childcare centers, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies.  The programs supported by the Children's Services Council have the potential of touching every individual and every aspect of our community in some way.

In fact, all of Martin County enjoys the good quality of life that comes from the impact of the Children's Services Council. Our community is safer, healthier and stronger because our children are more likely to stay on a positive path, graduate high school and become tax-paying citizens. Council-funded programs reduce our long-term tax burden with prevention programs. Taxpayers can save up to $20 for every $1 spent on prevention programs. (We pay for arrests, detention, prosecution, premature births and substance abuse treatment anyway; why not pay for programs that help avoid these costs?) As a result, Martin County is a desirable place to live, and so Council-funded programs, by addressing the needs of our neighbors, increase our property values and strengthen our economy by producing more high school graduates and allowing more parents to have children attending early learning programs.   

Why does having a Children’s Service Council in Martin County matter if you don't have children?

You may not have children.  Maybe your children are grown, and you are a grandparent now.  Perhaps a colleague of yours at work or a close friend is a mother or father.  You may live next to a family with children, or there’s a school down the street.  The truth is, it does take a village to raise a child, and that’s a wonderful thing.  It means that we look out for and care for each other.  We must remember that children who grow up to be successful, contributing members of society, pay their fair share of taxes and take part in civic life provide benefits for all of us.  Hence, investments in programs that prevent school failure, hospitalization, foster care and juvenile crime save tax dollars in the long run.  National research tells us, in fact, that $1 invested in quality basics in the early childhood years will save at least $7 (and up to $20!) in later costs for police, prosecution, prison, substance abuse treatment and remedial education.

A dedicated source of funding for children’s programs and services, such as the Children's Services Council, helps ensure that all children get the best start possible in life in terms of education, health care and overall well-being.  That means that society – that you – don’t later have to shoulder the burden, financial and otherwise, to pay for errors, transgressions, and corrective measures.

 

What are some of the ways that the Children's Services Council of Martin County benefits the community?

Some of the ways that the Children's Services Council of Martin County benefits the community are:

In 2013-14:

$6,042,698 - Total amount of money invested in the Children's Services Council of Martin County.

$5,105,494 - Amount of money invested directly in programs.

$3,306,094 -  Amount leveraged by Council funds from other funders (State, Federal, and Foundations) for programs that serve children and families. 

26,186 -  Number of children age 0-17 in our community.

11,504 -  Number of children that the Children's Services Council funds reach annually.

2,561 - Approximate number of children receiving after-school care as a result of Council funds.

174 -  Number of people employed through Children's Services Council's funded programs.

35 -  Number of funded programs.

$7-20 -  Number of dollars saved in later costs for police, prosecution, prison, and remedial education for every dollar invested in quality basics in the early childhood years. 

The work of the Children's Services Council of Martin County aims to prevent a host of health, family, and educational barriers that burden communities, states, and the nation for a child’s lifetime.  Programs funded by CSCMC work to ensure:

More -  children enter the world alive and healthy.

More -  mothers and babies are healthy and have better birth outcomes.

More - children are safe, nurtured and developing normally in quality child care.

Fewer -  children are abused and neglected.

More - children enter the public school system prepared mentally, physically and emotionally ready to learn.

More - children spend out-of-school time with adult supervision, rather than alone and engaging in risky behaviors.

Fewer - children need to be placed in foster care or detention centers.

 

What kind of programs and services does the Children’s Services Council of Martin County provide?

The Children's Services Council of Martin County does not directly provide services, but it allocates funding to organizations with expertise in specific program areas.  The current funding priority areas for the Council are: Healthy Children, Strong Families, Safe Communities and Success in School and Life. 

Annually, the Children's Services Council funds approximately 30-40 programs that are operated by 25-30 different organizations.  For a comprehensive list of programs funded by the Council, please visit the Funded Programs page.

 

How does the Children’s Services Council of Martin County determine what services are needed?

The Children's Services Council’s funding decisions are rooted in its strategic plan.  The plan is based on a series of indicators of youth health and well-being.  The Council uses this data as a guide to track how Martin County’s children are fairing in relation to the state and nation.  The Children's Services Council carefully considers areas where Martin is underperforming in comparison to the state.  Those areas often influence the enhancement or expansion of existing services or may even reveal the need for a service that is currently not available in Martin County.  In addition to the indicators of youth health and well-being, the Council and staff remain connected to the service delivery network and recipients of services to ensure that the needs of the community are understood and reflected in the Council’s planning process.  Together with many partners in the community, the Children's Services Council is regularly examining the conditions in the community and their impact on children and their families.  All of these factors are considered when the Council sets its funding priorities.

 

How are organizations chosen by the Children’s Services Council of Martin County to provide the programs and services needed by Martin County’s children?

Generally, an annual Request for Proposals (RFP or application) is issued, and interested organizations reply with proposals to deliver the needed services within the Children's Services Council’s specified funding priority areas. Typically, applications are released in December and are due by early February each year.  During the months of February and March, the applications are reviewed.  In April after the application review process is completed, recommendations are given to the Council Members who ultimately make the final decision as to which programs receive funding. 

 

How do we know if the programs and services funded by the Children’s Services Council of Martin County are helping children?

To ensure accountability to the Martin County taxpayers, measurable objectives are a part of all Children's Services Council's program contracts, as well as the processes for measuring whether or not these objectives are met.  The objectives are designed to measure positive effects on the youth involved in the program.  If a program is falling short of its contracted goals, Council's Contract Specialist, assigned to the program, works with the service provider's program staff to find ways to improve the situation.  A corrective action plan may be put into place to help a program improve its performance. 

Council-funded programs also recieve a series of monitoring visits.  Each program has two drop-in visits annually that are designed to observe services, as they are being delivered to the program's target population.  In addition, all programs receive a mid-year program monitoring that is primarily administrative in nature.  Programs are also subject to a minimum of one fiscal monitoring visit each year to ensure financial accountability.

Best Practices:

Funding allocations are based on models or elements of models that have been proven to work and have a demonstrated return on investment.  These models are often referred to as best practices.  If best practices are used with the individuals and families in which they are designed, research tells us that there is a greater likelihood for a successful outcome.

 

Are programs funded by the Children’s Services Council of Martin County monitored and evaluated?

All programs funded by the Children's Services Council of Martin County are subject to a minimum of one programmatic mid-year site visit and two drop-in visits annually, plus quarterly program performance reviews.  All funded programs are also subject to a minimum of one fiscal site review annually.

Additionally, all organizations funded by Council are required to participate in the fiscal and program components of the Services and Activities Management Information System (SAMIS).  SAMIS is a web-based computer application in which Council-funded providers enter fiscal and program information.  SAMIS enables program providers and CSCMC Staff to access-real time data and information that reveals how the program is progressing and the impact that it is having on the participants being served.  It also enables efficient fiscal management.

 

How is the Children’s Services Council accountable to the citizens of Martin County?

All independent Children’s Services Councils must follow sections of Florida law dealing with local government fiscal matters, most notably Florida Statute Chapter 218.  Councils are also are governed by the  Florida’s Sunshine Law.

Monthly Council meetings, annual budget hearings, and any public records are open to the public.  

The Children's Services Councils also provides voters with annual reports and updated information online to ensure that they are as available, accessible, and accountable as possible.  

  • Children's Services Councils must provide an audit, prepared by an independent auditor, to the county and to the Florida Department of Financial Services according to a set schedule each year. 
  • Fiscal accountability and oversight are nearly identical to the statutory requirements that county governments must follow particularly with respect to public hearings.

 

Does the community have an opportunity to give input to the Children’s Services Council of Martin County?

Citizen input is crucial to identifying the needs of children and families in Martin County’s various communities, as well as finding solutions to those needs.  Public comment is encouraged at every Children's Services Council meeting.  Additionally, the Council Staff is assisted by a Community Advisory Panel.  The panel is comprised of volunteers from various industries and backgrounds in our community who have specific knowledge regarding the needs of Martin County children and families and possess an in-depth understanding of Martin County’s social service delivery system.  Together with Children's Services Council's staff, this volunteer advisory panel: (1) examines the Council's strategic plan, including consideration of the key indicators of youth health and well being, and (2) assists in examing new programs inquiring about receiving support from the Children's Services Council.  In 2010, the Council began hosting a Community Conversation Series that was designed to create a forum for public discussion, regarding the role of the Children’s Services Council of Martin County and its ability to assist the provider community in meeting the current and future needs of the children and families in Martin County.  In 2012, the Council held the first State of the Child Symposium, which kicked off development of the next strategic planning process. Check the Council meeting calendar for upcoming conversations.

 

Do other communities have Children’s Services Councils?

This concept of a dedicated funding source for children dates to more than a half-century ago to a decision made by voters in Pinellas County (St. Petersburg).  Today, nine Florida counties have such a dedicated source, which includes the original Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County, Children's Services Council of Martin County, plus our South Florida neighbors in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade (The Children's Trust), as well as Duval (Jacksonville Children's Commission), Hillsborough (Children's Board), Okeechobee, and St. Lucie Counties. 

Visit the Florida Children’s Council for more information about the Children’s Services Councils across the state at http://flchildrenscouncil.org/.

 

 

How can I stay informed about the Children’s Services Council of Martin County?

The best way to follow the Children's Services Council’s work is to visit the website frequently.  You can also follow the Children's Services Council through social networking sites, such as Facebook.  Watch for the Council's Annual Report that is released in the early summer each year.  Typically, it is available online and distributed via insert in The Stuart News.  In addition, the Council meets once every month at 10 a.m. on the 4th Monday of the month (except December and twice in September after 5 p.m.) at the Children’s Services Council office located at 101 S.E. Central Parkway, Stuart, Florida.  In September of each year, the Council holds two public hearings to adopt a millage rate and budget.   The dates and times of these public hearings vary but will be posted on the Children's Services Council's meeting calendar.