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Agency Heads Honor Outgoing Florida Lawmaker For Her Child Advocacy Work

Florida Channel

A number of agency leaders honored Republican Senator Nancy Detert Wednesday. The Florida lawmaker is a well-known child advocate in the Florida Legislature.

This year marks Detert’s last year as a Florida lawmaker, and Florida Children and Youth Cabinet members are recognizing the Venice Republican for her legislative achievements.

“Certainly, you are a legend in the state of Florida, with all that you have accomplished and you will be sorely missed,” said Cabinet Chairwoman Wansley Walters. “But, I know that you will never be far away and you certainly will never hesitate to put forth your view, and I think we’re all extremely grateful that that potential exists, even though we will miss you in Tallahassee.”

Walters later spoke to Detert in her capacity as the former head of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

“While you are well-known for your work in the child welfare area, two years ago, certainly the hallmark of my entire career was a rewrite of the juvenile justice laws and you were a cosponsor of that,” she added. “And, that ensures that the work that was hard fought in the field of juvenile justice is permanent, making prevention a card carrying part of our juvenile justice system.”

Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll spoke of Detert’s no-nonsense personality.

“The Senator’s tough and she’s direct, and he has high expectation,” he said. “And, that can be intimidating. Standing before her can be an intimidating thing. But, she’s also very fair, and I think she also does her homework. More than any other person I met at the legislature, she knew the issues at hand, sometimes even better than my own folks did.”

Carroll says the Senator also leaves behind what he calls “a true legacy of change.”

“And, it’s everything from extending foster care to independent living, normalization for kids up to and including driving a car, you know the normal passages of right for a kids, this year’s adoption bill, which was near and dear to my heart, in terms of focusing on the best interests of the child,” he added. “You know, Senate Bill 1666 from a couple of years ago that really codified into law that we’re about the best interest of the child.”

Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz says Detert has also made her mark on a national level with her so-called Normalcy Bill. It allows foster parents to have more of a role in their kids’ lives.

“I truly think that everyone in every community in the state of Florida—and not just the state of Florida, think about it,” he said. “When you passed the…actually it’s called the Detert Law. They actually formally named it after you. The next year, they passed it as a national law, and I’ve been getting calls non-stop from other states on how they implement it. And, you know what I do? I give them your testimony that you gave before Congress at the House Ways and Means Committee and I send them the transcript. And, I say, ‘if you really want to understand it, just listen to Senator Detert,’ because you’ve made listening to children an art.”

And, Detert says she’s not only proud of her efforts, she’s honored to receive such high praise.

“Well, let me tell you what an honor it is to be here and to hear those kind words. If I were a crier, I’d be in tears right now,” she said, to laughter. “I’m half way there. It’s been my honor and privilege to work for those foster kids, to know that between all of us every single one of you, their lives are better.”

Detert—who’s served in both chambers of the Florida Legislature for 16 years—is leaving to run for a Sarasota County Commission seat.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.