Important Update - ICFH has merged into Cayuga Centers. Click here for more information.

The Children’s Trust to Host Seventh Annual Champions for Children Awards Ceremony

This year’s event to help promote new county-wide reading initiative


MIAMI – The Children’s Trust will host its seventh annual Champions for Children Awards Ceremony to honor individuals and programs that have made extraordinary efforts on behalf of our children and families on Friday, November 4th at the Jungle Island Treetop Ballroom, from noon – 2 p.m.

In addition, this year’s signature event will promote literacy and Read to Learn/Leer para aprender/Li pou apran, a multi-year collaborative campaign spearheaded by The Children’s Trust. The awards ceremony also will feature a book signing with Laura Duksta and Karen Keesler, author and illustrator, respectively, of The New York Times bestseller, I Love You More.

Champions for Children is among the most coveted events within the Miami-Dade County community of child advocates and serves to inspire others to follow in the footsteps of our award recipients. Tickets to the event may be purchased online at

The award categories and recipients are as follows:

• David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award: Robert D. Nolan, Ph.D. for Lifetime of Achievement and Dedication to Children. Dr. Nolan has served as the executive director of the Institute for Child & Family Health, formerly known as Children’s Psychiatric Center, for 35 years. A nationally and internationally recognized expert on Play Therapy and renowned advocate for children’s mental health services, he has played a prominent role in helping to shape policies pertaining to children’s mental health in Florida. Dr. Nolan has taught, supervised and mentored countless child therapists now providing services in South Florida.

Excellence in Direct Service for Children and Families: Jill Little, BSSW, coordinator of Florida State University’s Young Parents Project of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court. Jill Little is a social worker who operates a pioneering home-visitation program that helps to interrupt the intergeneration cycle of teen mothers in the dependency and delinquency courts.

• Excellence in School Readiness Programming: Children’s Forum, Quality Counts Career Center. A key partner in The Children’s Trust Quality Counts childcare rating and improvement initiative, Children’s Forum utilizes specially trained career advisors of the Quality Counts Career Center who meet with teachers and directors to assess their strengths, review their educational backgrounds, set education and career goals, provide scholarships and encourage them to achieve their dreams of becoming better qualified early childhood education professionals.

• Excellence in Youth Programming for School and Life Success: Greater Miami Youth Symphony (GMYS) is the longest-standing youth symphony in South Florida. GMYS offers free beginning instrument instruction annually to more than 350 youth in five distinct neighborhoods. Over the past six seasons, 100 percent of GMYS graduating seniors have gone on to college, and a majority of students are accepted into the county’s top music magnet programs.

• Excellence in Health, Family or Community Services: New Horizon Community Mental Health Center convenes numerous community partners, including law enforcement, to provide a broad range of supports and services to families in crisis who reside within some of our county’s most at-risk communities.

“It is paramount that we continue to celebrate and recognize people who dedicate their lives to the children and families of this community and who do so with excellence, despite challenging economic times,” said Modesto E. Abety-Gutierrez, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust. “Furthermore, we will take this opportunity to rally community-wide support for our new literacy initiative aimed at reducing by half the number of third graders not reading at grade level by 2020. Currently, one-third of our third-graders fail to reach this critical benchmark, a leading indicator of school success.”
In addition to the honorees listed above, The Children’s Trust will recognize its employee of the year at the Champions for Children 2011 Award Ceremony. Bios of each award recipient are available upon request.

To learn more about The Children’s Trust, please call 211 or visit

CONTACT: Alina Plasencia | Communications Director | Institute for Child & Family Health (ICFH)T: 305-722-5322 | F: 305-688-3889 | |