New Leon County Children’s Services Council members speak about priorities

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 6:53 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - With appointments made by Governor Ron DeSantis, the Leon County Children’s Services Council now has a full group.

The ballot initiative to create the CSC passed in Leon County this past November with about 65 percent of the vote.

It’s a diverse group of people with many different backgrounds.

Some members told WCTV that they hope to focus on literacy, while others want to focus on brain development, but they all agree that the taxpayer dollars that will fund their initiatives need to be spent wisely.

“Getting to go on the children’s services council is like old home week for me. I’m so excited,” said CSC member, Liza McFadden.

McFadden is president of a consulting firm, Liza & Partners, that works with philanthropists, many of whom are involved in education.

That, and her love of literacy, led her to apply for the position.

“I previously served as the president of the Barbara Bush Foundation for family literacy, and prior to that, I operated foundations that always had literacy as a really important part of that world,” McFadden explained.

She said she’s concerned about learning loss due to COVID-19.

“I have especially been following the great work in Miami-Dade with their Children’s Services Council,” McFadden said. “They used a lot of their resources to ensure that 3-year-olds have access to education, not just 4 and 5-year-olds.”

Another member appointed by the Governor is TMH President and CEO, Mark O’Bryant.

O’Bryant says a CSC is needed because the future of the community is tied to children. He was one of many local leaders who spoke in favor of creating the Council ahead of the 2020 election.

“If we can create an environment where we can help develop children to become prosperous adults, that helps all of us, frankly,” said O’Bryant,.

O’Bryant said that in his field, he sees the long-term importance of early childhood development.

“I will be advocating for children zero to five, zero to three, and that really ties to brain development,” O’Bryant added.

Five members of the CSC are predetermined as part of the statute; they include Leon County Commissioner Carolyn Cummings, Superintendent Rocky Hanna, a DCF administrator, a Juvenile Court Judge, and a School Board member. The other five members were appointed by Gov. DeSantis from a list of fifteen submitted by County commissioners.

This group does fall under Sunshine Laws, so meetings will be publicly noticed. They have not met or decided what tax rate they may choose yet, but WCTV will keep you updated.

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