The Balmoral Institute (TBI) is a non-profit organization associated with The Balmoral Group, LLC. The Institute has professional staff trained and experienced in a broad range of technical fields associated with the protection and management of the coastal zone resources. Relevant capabilities and experience include hydrodynamic, bathymetric, and ecosystem modeling using a GIS platform supported by software applications including CatchmentSIM, waterRIDE, and ARCGIS
Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program
The Balmoral Institute (TBI) teamed with RW Parkinson to produce a study of prioritizing total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) as determined by seagrass habitat vulnerability to sea level rise. With the ultimate goal of restoring the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) estuarine ecosystem, the project focused on protection of existing seagrass habitat and re-growth in barren areas. TMDLs were set to achieve these management goals, developed throughout the IRL basin in association with Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs).
The IRL BMAPs included strategies to achieve TMDLs in each of the sub-basins and segments, but resource constraints made it unlikely that all could be implemented fully. Therefore, the project sought to prioritize allocation of resources to ensure successful restoration of water quality and seagrass cover with acknowledgement of this limitation. In order to ensure a consistent basis for management allocation, TBI contributed to the following efforts:
Construction of a model of the IRL basin using existing shoreline, bathymetric, geographic and physiographic data
Mapping of seagrass coverage, associated with successful re-growth to ecological compensation depths
Quantification of changes in seagrass coverage as a function of sea level rise to the year 2100
Preparation of interim and final reports
Two interim TMDL thresholds were assessed, reflecting achievement of 15% of TMDL targets for water quality and 60%, respectively. The analysis found that overall seagrass habitat in the area under study would decline by 84% from 2009 conditions after 6 feet of sea level rise. About 80% of total seagrass would be lost under the TMDL scenarios, while 60% would be lost under the fully restored conditions. The findings were a step forward toward informed planning; the report noted several potential improvements that could be applied in the future, however, such as accounting for changes in shoreline boundaries and potential migration of seagrass beds inland.
Case Managers and Outcomes for Florida's At-Risk Children
In early 2014, The Balmoral Institute (TBI) undertook a project for at-risk youth to analyze the relationship between case manager turnover – a problem caused by burnout, low pay, and inadequate funding – and child outcomes. Collecting available literature and performing empirical analysis, TBI worked with the Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS) to produce a report of the findings for distribution to the Florida state legislature – even spawning a compelling video presentation in the process. The report succeeded in spreading awareness and eventually led to increased funding support for case management, which will create a more effective system for safeguarding the welfare of children.
Case manager turnover threatens the welfare of children by distorting their views on trusting relationships. This leads to misbehavior and isolation, reducing opportunities for adoption or reunification. With each additional case manager disappearing in a child’s life, these problems (and their costs) intensify. Fewer children achieving adoption or reunification means more children spending more time in care, incurring higher costs in the process. Cost savings to be realized from reduced turnover present a compelling argument to invest in hiring more case managers.
These direct costs are accompanied by costs imposed upon society due to negative child outcomes in life, beyond their experience in caregiving programs. Studies have shown that children who experience longer periods of time without permanency - often due to disrupted work with case workers - also face higher chances of engaging in criminal activity or experiencing teen pregnancy. While criminal behavior imposes costs on society through theft and other damaging activities, teen pregnancy strains health care resources, leads to lost tax revenue due to diminished income, and increases the likelihood of criminal activity and incarceration becoming a factor in the newborn’s life later on.
TBI found that an investment to reduce case worker turnover could result in savings almost 50 times greater than the initial investment – a strong argument for increased support that speaks clearly to policymakers. It has become clear that hiring more of these professionals can empower them to allocate caseloads appropriately and more successfully improve the lives of the children and families they serve – and, as shown by TBI’s data, this investment will pay for itself through direct and indirect cost savings. Every member of the Appropriations committee received a copy of the report, and TBI’s product was such a success that the state legislature agreed to $10 million in additional funding – dramatically surpassing the initial goal of $5.5 million.