Lorita Shirley has worked in the field of child welfare for over 20 years with more than 10 in a leadership role. She obtained her BSW and MSW degrees from Florida State University and started her child welfare career with the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services where she worked with families on the front end of the system through child abuse investigations and the back end through foster care.
Ms. Shirley quickly rose to a leadership role with the Florida Department of Children and Families where she was responsible for overseeing child welfare services in Osceola County – and she has over seven years experience serving in top leadership positions with two Florida Community-Based Care (CBC) Lead Agencies charged with managing large child welfare systems of care.
In her most recent position with Eckerd, Ms. Shirley served as Executive Director of Eckerd Community Alternatives, the Circuit 6 CBC Lead Agency for child welfare services in Pinellas and Pasco counties and one of Florida’s largest child welfare systems of care. With a proven track record of bringing stability and improved performance outcomes to thousands of Florida’s children and families, Ms. Shirley took Eckerd Community Alternatives from one of the worst to one of the best performing child welfare systems of care in the state. Ms. Shirley achieved this by engaging the community, leveraging and maximizing resources, and ensuring transparency and accountability on all levels – and her commitment to improving services to Florida’s children and families is based on a premise that the community should be engaged in all aspects of the local child welfare system.
A long-time Hillsborough resident and Florida native, Mrs. Shirley was a natural choice to lead Eckerd’s transition in Hillsborough County where she will serve as Executive Director of the Circuit 13 CBC Lead Agency when Eckerd takes over the contract on July 1, 2012. In her new role, Ms. Shirley will provide leadership to a system of care responsible for the safety, well-being and permanency of over 3,000 Hillsborough children and families.
Ms. Shirley serves on the Florida Coalition for Children Board of Directors where she advocates for legislative changes statewide in the child welfare arena. Her passion for child welfare and her commitment to communities earned her the 2004 Jim Strayer Leadership Award; 2011 Pinellas Community Advocate Award; and 2011 Administrator of the Year Award through the Florida Coalition for Children. Ms. Shirley is married and a devoted wife and mother to three daughters ages 19, 15 and 4.