renee-ward_web.jpgThe Miami Children’s Initiative (MCI) launched a Community Forum Series on June 1, with more than 40 government agencies and elected officials in attendance.

State Sen. Oscar Braynon II, state Reps. Cynthia Stafford, Daphne Campbell and Dwight Bullard joined representatives of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime and other state, municipal, and city agencies for a luncheon meeting at the Joseph Caleb Center, 5400 NW 22nd Ave.

Others present included Renee Ward, president and CEO of MCI, and representatives of the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Juvenile Justice, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the Miami-Dade police department and members of the MCI board.

The meeting centered on how MCI and government agencies can collaborate to fulfill the Initiative’s mission of creating a brighter future for the children of Liberty City.

MCI’s charter calls for the building of an intense and expansive provider network to broaden capacity for effective parental support. The goal is to create an environment that will surround children with an enriching holistic environment to carry them from “cradle to career.”

“The Miami Children’s Initiative has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of children in Miami.  I am thoroughly committed to the success of this program,” Braynon said.  “Similar programs like the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York have proven that this is an effective concept. I am excited and look forward to working with the board and staff to achieve their goals.”

The next installment in the Community Forum Series will take place on Wednesday, June 15, and will be exclusively for educators.

A session on Wednesday, June 29, will be exclusively for community service providers.

A statement from the Initiative said the goal of the series of forums is to forge a coalition in support of the mission of MCI from among government agencies, non-profits, community-based organizations, schools, churches, businesses and residents.

The MCI is a 10-year plan dedicated to creating a community-based network that develops, coordinates and provides quality education, accessible health care, youth development programs, opportunities for employment and safe neighborhoods for children and families living within the MCI boundaries.

The Initiative is modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, regarded as a highly successful program that uses a holistic approach in rebuilding the community.

It is a result of a Florida law that created a Liberty City project to be managed by Miami Childr­en’s Initiative Inc., a nonprofit corporation housed in the Department of Children and Families.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund is responsible for ensuring the development of a business plan, conducting evaluation, fiscal management and project oversight for the Initiative.