Valerie Holmes, executive director of Brevard C.A.R.E.S. received the Brevard Child Abuse Prevention Task Force “Child Abuse Prevention Leader” award at the organization’s annual banquet held recently in Viera. The award recognizes an individual in the community who has proven to be a pioneering leader in the field of child welfare, with multiple years of service toward strengthening children, families and the community.

Ms. Holmes has been a leader in the development and management of Brevard County’s child welfare system for the past five years. With the help of her experience and expertise the Brevard C.A.R.E.S. program has successfully diverted over 6,800 children from the dependency system and kept more than 3,000 families from reaching the threshold of abuse and neglect. Since the inception of Brevard C.A.R.E.S. in 2005, the census of children in the dependency system has decreased from 1,530 to fewer than 750 today.  At any given time, Brevard C.A.R.E.S. is serving over 500 children and their families. Her leadership has been pivotal in the reduction of child abuse in Brevard County by 50%.

In September 2009, she began her role as the executive director of Brevard C.A.R.E.S., with responsibility for the oversight of all administrative, fiscal and programmatic activities of the prevention and diversion programs. She also works in concert with the C.A.R.E.S. national replication team and serves as the principal point-of-contact and project lead on any research and data analysis of Brevard C.A.R.E.S.

Ms. Holmes has worked in the social services field and in a variety of community based settings since 1994, including those that serve victims of domestic violence, as well as those with serious mental and terminal illnesses.  For the past 10 years she has devoted her services in the field of child welfare.

As the director of operations for Child and Family Services at Brevard Family Partnership, since the agency’s inception in August 2004, Ms. Holmes has provided leadership and oversight of the agency’s intake, placement, adoption, child welfare pre-paid mental health plan, out-of-home care, licensing and child placing agencies.  She also trained and engaged stakeholders through the start-up and transition to Brevard County’s new system of care, which moved the child welfare program from a state-run to a localized, community-based form of management.

Ms. Holmes received her M.S. degree in Counseling and Psychology from Troy University in 2005 and an M.S. degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida in 2001.  She received a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida in 1993.