By County Commissioner Bryan Nelson
The Orange County Family Services Department is an essential resource for all county residents. The department is responsible for providing a large number of social programs and services to the community.
Family Services is divided into 10 divisions each with a specific mission in mind. These divisions are:
Citizen Resource ＆ Outreach Office
Citizens' Commission for Children
Neighborhood Preservation and Revitalization
Regional History Center
Youth and Family Services
Fiscal and Operational Support
Each division is in charge of overseeing and implementing successful programs and services in a wide range of areas including; childcare, education, veteran, youth, and family affairs, neighborhood preservation and revitalization, and low income assistance among many others.
One of the most crucial divisions is the Community Action Division which oversees Orange County’s Community Centers, including the John Bridges Center in Apopka, Neighborhood Services, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Community Partnerships.
Another equally important division is the Head Start division with is responsible for overseeing all of the Head Start centers across the county and providing quality early education, medical, and nutritional care for all children in Orange County ages 3-5. Families whose household income is at or below the 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines are eligible to participate in Head Start.
In effort to successfully support all of the program and services provided by Family Services Orange County is proposing a budget of $71,409,599 for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Family Services is funded in large part by the Orange County General Fund. The General Fund is made up of a series of funding sources which include, property taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, and revenue shared with the state among others. Sixty percent of the Family Services revenue is expected to come from the general fund. The second major funding category for Family Services comes from federal government. This funding accounts for about 32% of the budget’s revenue. The third funding category comes from the State. The department is also projected to receive funding from the INVEST In Our Home for Life initiative. INVEST in Our Home for Life initiative is a $300 million initiative aimed at providing quality infrastructure, vibrant neighborhoods and quality housing, enhanced recreational opportunities, and new public safety facilities among others.
Included in this initiative is funding for three Family Services facilities in three separate districts.
In District 1, the Mildred Dixon Community Center will undergo renovations of an old gymnasium to make room for more office space as well as space for youth programs/activities.
In District 3, Family Services is looking to build a new 2Gen facility geared at incorporating and providing services to the community’s families. The goal of services offered at this center would be to assist the families with as many resources as possible for an extended period which should lead to family success. 2Gen programs work with children and parents together as they are provided services
In District 6, a New Caribbean Community Center is also being proposed to better cater to and server the Caribbean communities found there. This project is an extension of the successful Haitian Neighborhood Center for Children (NCF) which is located on the campus of Mollie Rae Elementary School in Pine Hills. For the District 1 and 6 projects Community Development Block Grant dollars will be utilized along with the INVEST funding.
The Family Services Department is hoping to continue and expand its accomplishments from the current year into the 2016-2017 fiscal year. This year’s accomplishments include almost $30 million in assistance to veterans, Head Start winning the Edward Zigler Innovation Award for Asthma Prevention, serving 9,500 participants in the After School Zone program and 11,000 clients in the Neighborhood Center for Families.
For a more in-depth explanation of any of Orange County Government’s Financial Policies you can contact the Office of Management and Budget at (407) 836-7390 or see Orange County’s Administrative Regulations.
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Bryan Nelson sits on the Orange County Board of Commissioners and Represents District 7 which includes Apopka and Northwest Orange County.
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