A Tribute to Harry A. Johnston II

More than 35 years ago, four local leaders – including state Sen. Harry A. Johnston II – demanded change for Palm Beach County’s children and families by creating a local children’s services council. Today, we mourn Sen. Johnston’s passing and are forever thankful for his leadership, persistence and heart.

In the mid-1980s, Sen. Johnston took a bold step, urging his peers in the Florida Legislature to allow local communities to tax themselves on behalf of children and families. In comments during that time, Sen. Johnston stated: “In every child who is born, the potential of the human race is born again; and in every child who is born, there is born in us a responsibility to that child, and to the future of our country.”

In November 1986, Palm Beach County residents voted by a 70-30 margin to create a local Children’s Services Council – only the second in Florida. By throwing his weight behind the cause, Sen. Johnston helped Palm Beach County lead the way in providing vital, life-changing services for children and families across the state. Today, 13 Florida counties have created CSCs that invest in the well-being of their community’s children and families. In 11 counties, voters have approved independent taxing authority for their CSC to ensure that a dedicated funding source is available for children’s programs and services. 

Sen. Johnston – who was joined by children's advocate Elaine Webb Alvarez, local attorney Kenneth G. Spillias and then state. Rep Eleanor Weinstock in pushing for CSC’s creation – went beyond the call of duty to become Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County’s first chair, setting a precedent for CSC to use data, research and accountability in decision-making. 

We are deeply grateful for his commitment to Palm Beach County’s children.

About Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County

The Council is a local, special-purpose government created by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014. For more than 30 years, it has provided leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong.

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