In the late 1980s, services for Palm Beach County children in need were haphazard. If a child needed a range of services, families had to travel all over the county, fill out reams of paper and tell their story countless times.
Children were viewed in isolation, with little recognition of the hardships facing their family, their neighborhood and their community. The system was inefficient and redundant.
Palm Beach County advocates for children knew there had to be a better way.
Following in Pinellas County’s footsteps – albeit nearly 40 years later, the citizens in Palm Beach County sought to establish a special taxing district for children in their county.
Advocates for change
With the combined efforts of citizen advocates, and support from state legislators Sen. Harry Johnston and Rep. Mike Friedman, Palm Beach County succeeded in getting the Florida Legislature to pass the Juvenile Welfare Services Act. Effective Oct. 1, 1986, this enabling legislation provided that any county in Florida, whose voters agreed through referendum, could create a special district for children’s services with a governing board and the authority to levy taxes.
Today, Chapter 125 of the Florida Statutes allows a Children’s Services Council to be created by ordinance of the county government (board of county commissioners). County voters may, by countywide referendum, approve taxing authority for its CSC. If approved, Florida law specifies that the CSC can use local tax money only to serve the children and families within the boundaries of that county.
On Nov. 4, 1986, the voters of Palm Beach County approved creation of the Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County by a 70-30 margin. Exactly 28 years later, Palm Beach County voters reauthorized its Children’s Services Council with nearly 85% approval.
Throughout the years, much has changed in Palm Beach County. But the one thing that hasn’t is Children’s Services Council’s mission – to provide all Palm Beach County children with the chance to grow up healthy, safe and strong.