Eckerd Kids shuts down troubled out-of-hours teen center

The agency that runs child welfare in Hillsborough County is closing a troubled out-of-hours teen center.

Eckerd Kids announced Wednesday that it will terminate its contract with subcontractor Camelot Community Care to run the Ybor Heights center, which is used to temporarily house and supervise children entering the foster care system until they are placed with foster parents or in a group home.

Eckerd officials declined to state why they were unhappy with Camelot’s performance. Efforts last month to find another provider were unsuccessful. No firm other than Camelot bid for the job.

“Eckerd Kids has made numerous attempts to improve the performance of Camelot’s Teen Center,” said spokeswoman Adrienne Drew, in a statement. “We believe this move will provide the best environment for our foster children, which is our number one goal.”

The Tampa Police Department has responded to 13 disturbance calls and 57 runaway reports at the center this year, records show. Last weekend, a case manager was injured and a teenager was arrested, Eckerd said.

In addition to supervision, Eckerd’s $500,000 contract with Camelot covers the transportation of foster children to and from school and day care centers.

In January, a Camelot driver mistakenly dropped a 4-year-old foster girl at the wrong home in Tampa. The contract for transportation has also been put out for bid.

Concerns about the center were raised at a regular meeting of child welfare stakeholders held this week at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

Children are allowed to stay for up to four hours at the center outside of regular working hours until they are placed. But in some cases children ended up there longer because they did not want to go to certain foster or group homes.

“There are a variety of reasons children won’t go to some places,” said Robin Rosenberg, deputy director of Florida’s Children First, a statewide advocacy organization focused on children’s rights. “They may not feel safe or the place is not respectful to them.”

Contact Christopher O’Donnell at or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.


Eckerd Kids shuts down troubled out-of-hours teen center 05/10/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 6:35pm]
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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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