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NWF Health Network

Faith-Based Initiative


Through the years, NWF Health Network (NWFHN) has developed relationships with over 100 faith-based institutions and organizations who assist the children and families NWFHN serves throughout our 18-county coverage area.

On November 19, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the establishment of the Governor’s Faith and Community Based Initiative.  In response to the Governor’s Faith Initiative, CEO Mike Watkins designated a part-time staff person as the liaison with faith-based organizations and the Governor’s Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council.

Following the lead from Governor and First Lady DeSantis – the creation of the position of Faith Liaison became part of a larger initiative to embrace and expand our faith-based relationships in the region we serve. On January 27, 2023, CEO Mike Watkins announced the appointment of a full-time position as NWFHN’s Faith Liaison.

With the establishment of Governor DeSantis’ Faith and Community Based Initiative, NWFHN has continued to build and grow relationships with additional faith-based institutions and organizations as we partner to meet the needs of the children and families we serve.


The goals of the Governor’s faith-based initiative – and correspondingly, those of NWFHN – are to enlist, enable, empower, and expand the work of volunteer faith-based and community-based organizations and serve as a primary point of contact for faith-based institutions and community organizations in Florida and our region respectively.

Since the launch of this initiative, the impact has been both tangible and measurable. In conjunction with these faith-based initiatives as well as other targeted programs, the number of foster families have increased. NWFHN has hired several individuals deeply connected to the faith community across our 18-county service area. These connections have led to recruitment of families wanting to and are now serving as foster parents.

Our Reach

The NWFHN Faith Liaison position is dedicated and directed to support Governor DeSantis’ Faith and Community Based Initiative, which was established in 2019 to better connect Florida’s faith and community networks.

In addition, the Faith Liaison supports over 135+ faith-based organizations across the 18 counties in Northwest Florida, who provide support to families and children we serve.

Moving Forward

We are working to build a robust communications network with the faith-based community via regular email correspondence as well as social media updates and a periodic e-newsletter. Additionally, we are putting together a region-wide annual faith summit hosted and organized by NWFHN to recognize, reward, and inspire faith-based leaders who assist in helping us achieve our mission.

Additionally, in the coming year, NWF Health Network will:

  • Offer Faith Grants. NWF Health Network will announce several new grant opportunities for our faith-based partners. These grants will allow for expansion of behavioral health, substance use, and mental health programs to serve children and families throughout the region.
  • Host an Annual Faith Summit. This fall, NWF is putting together an in-person faith summit to bring together those faith leaders who have worked with.
    our teams to improve foster and adoption care support services. The faith summit will be both a recognition of the work they have done and an inspiration to continue to grow and expand it.

Success Defined

As this program looks forward, it is vital to define what success looks like. To that end, we have identified several key goals:

  • Achieve Sustainability. It is essential to achieving our long-term goals that we develop an ongoing system that is both reliant on and supportive of our faith community. To ensure that, we have built an internal staff structure to ensure consistent support, a structure to ensure ongoing communications, periodic recognition for supporters and an annual Faith Summit to inspire others.
  • Attain Measurable Success. It is vital that we at NWFHN never forget our charge to be the very best provider in the state, to serve families and to achieve our corporate goals of service. This means our independent rankings as provided by the Department of Children and Families and their agents should always demonstrate that success through the metrics we provide and keep us always in the top of these rankings. These faith partnerships extend our reach and if successful, will keep our rankings high in all areas.
  • Provide service with humility, respect, empathy, and goodwill. In all that we do, we must always align with our values and hold both ourselves and our partners to those values. Our faith initiative not only strives to hold these values but helps us expand and strengthen them through concerted action in services to others.