Juvenile Welfare Board CEO Beth Houghton Named a Boss for Babies

Apr 09, 2024

Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County (JWB) CEO Beth Houghton was recently named a Boss for Babies.

Bosses for Babies is a statewide initiative of The Children’s Movement of Florida designed to engage business leaders in boosting their workforce and contributing to community prosperity through family-focused practices.

Last year, JWB served 64,000 children and families through investments in 85 quality programs with 50 nonprofit agencies. Plus, we served tens of thousands more through our initiatives and campaigns that address complex issues facing our county’s children: children’s mental health, preventable child deaths, childhood hunger, and grade-level reading. These investments and work are focused in five strategic result areas: Early Childhood Development, School Readiness, School Success, Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and Strengthening Community.

“I am passionate about improving the lives of children, both because they are the innocent who cannot control their circumstances and because, as a society, improving children’s lives today and into the future is simply a smart investment. And I am proud of the leadership role JWB has taken for babies and their families,” Houghton said of the recognition. “As we know at JWB, 80% of brain growth happens before a child’s third birthday, and what parents and caregivers do in the first 1,000 days has a profound impact on their children’s future learning and development. So, the earlier we invest in children, the greater the return. Investing in high-quality early education yields an impressive economic return of $16 for every dollar invested, leading to higher graduation rates, increased income levels, and reduced social welfare costs.”

One of her favorite messages is, “In Pinellas County, children are 16% of the total population but they represent 100% of our future. The Juvenile Welfare Board (JWB) understands this and has been investing in the future of children and families in Pinellas County for more than 75 years.” This year, under Houghton’s leadership, JWB will invest a substantial portion of our $106.8M to support families with infants and young children, including the following programs and services:

JWB’s strategic initiatives and public awareness campaigns focused on infants, young children, and their families include:

  • Turbo Babies Early Childhood Public Awareness CampaignTurbo Babies embraces the power of play and represents the rapid pace at which children, birth to three, develop and grow. Fueled by JWB, the campaign encourages early connections and nurtures a baby’s drive to learn. It features consistent messaging, coordinated materials, parent education and training, and role modeling to give parents and other caregivers the confidence they need to be their child’s first and best teachers.
  • Children’s Mental Health Initiative – JWB understands that mental health begins at birth and that early intervention is key for developing healthy coping skills and resiliency. That’s why JWB and our community partners launched the Children’s Mental Health Initiative to foster prevention, early intervention, and treatment with a focus on children ages 4 to 11. A key strategy is to increase access by integrating behavioral health services into the pediatric setting and offering same-day appointments. The initiative also works to increase knowledge among pediatric providers in identifying and treating low-to-moderate mental health conditions and to destigmatize mental health.
  • Fatherhood Initiative – JWB and our partners are working collectively to bring a focus on fathers and promote father-inclusive community resources to equip dads with the tools they need to shine in their caregiver role. The initiative lifts up the voices of fathers, trains professionals who work with dads, and eliminates barriers and biases for fathers.  
  • Preventable Child Death Initiative – JWB and our partners launched an initiative to prevent the needless deaths of children under age six, tackling the three leading causes: suffocation due to unsafe sleep practices, drowning, and abusive head trauma. JWB’s Sleep Baby Safely campaign features consistent messaging, fact-based tips, coordinated materials, and education to protect babies from sleep-related suffocation every night and every nap. Since its launch, the campaign has reduced the number of infant sleep-related deaths in half and was expanded statewide last year.

JWB has also implemented strategies to build organizational capacity in the birth-to-three space:

  • 0-3 Think Tank – JWB has convened a group of thought leaders and subject matter experts in the birth-to-three space to help inform our work, guide policy, and amplify advocacy efforts.
  • Workforce Stabilization – JWB will invest $2M in workforce stabilization efforts, plus another $3.2M for cost-of-living adjustments across our funded programs, in response to record inflation and to ensure continuity of quality service delivery. Included are programs focused on infants, young children, and their families.
  • Grand Families – Working in partnership with our three Community Councils, JWB will host three family-focused events for grand families this spring.  Included will be resources and supports for grandparents raising their grandbabies and young grandchildren.

Support for babies and working parents is built into JWB’s culture: JWB employees receive a comprehensive benefits package that includes:

  • Paid Parental Leave – Paid parental leave up to six weeks is provided to JWB employees following the birth of an employee’s child or the placement of a child with an employee in connection with adoption or foster care. The purpose of paid parental leave is to enable the employee to care for and bond with a newborn or a newly adopted or newly placed child. This policy will run concurrently with Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, as applicable.
  • Breastfeeding-Friendly Workspace – JWB is a breastfeeding-friendly workplace, ensuring accommodations are in place for nursing mothers returning to the office.

Learn more about how JWB has been putting Pinellas County children first for more than 75 years at https://www.jwbpinellas.org/about/