Brookwood Florida provides a therapeutic community-based residential group home for adolescent foster girls who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect and abandonment or those at-risk and placed by low-income families under severe hardship. Their holistic program provides education, job skills and independent living skills training and counseling in coping with self-defeating behavior and work to instill strength of character and responsible decision-making to maintain a stable living environment upon transition to independence. Brookwood primarily serves victims of abuse in the foster care system, those abandoned by their own families due to mental health issues or other dysfunctionalities, and those who have experienced a fractured relationship with adoptive parents and are need of alternative placement. Brookwood staff and case managers work to guide girls who have experienced trauma and instability to maintain a structured, healthy lifestyle, pursue their educational goals, increase independent living skills and utilizing a Life Skills Workbook created by Brookwood Florida clinicians. The program introduces essential life skills like household management, financial responsibility, and self-sufficiency and a family-life support system to encourage girls to avoid risky, unproductive choices and reach for their full potential.
The Recreational and Cultural Activities Program offers girls living on the Brookwood campus, ages 13-18, access to experiential learning opportunities and after-school activities that encourage social and intellectual development, creativity and positive character development. Activities including swimming lessons, skating, bowling, hiking, art appreciation exhibits and nature center outings. Constructive, interest-based learning activities are essentially important to the healthy growth and development of young girls who had inadequate nurturing and mentoring relationships, and little exposure to cultural, educational and recreational activities. The Foundation continues its support of the Recreational and Cultural Activities program at Brookwood that has demonstrated significant positive impact in helping children and teens reduce stress, increasing feelings of self-worth and well-being, increasing character development and social skills and improved relationships with peers and adults.
Children in Crisis was established to raise and manage funds to build, staff and operate The Children’s Neighborhood, a residential group home and emergency shelter for abused, neglected and abandoned children. Teen transitional housing provides shelter and care for independent living youth transitioning out of the foster care system. Children in need of long- term foster care are offered a structured, family-style home environment cared for by a set of dedicated house parents in one of each of their 4 homes, housing 8-10 children. The Children’s Neighborhood’s emergency shelter allows for the immediate placement of children removed from their homes with a capacity to care for up to 16 children for a maximum stay of 30 days until permanent placement can be established. At Children in Crisis, foster children can experience valuable childhood memories, academic, social and cultural learning with summer enrichment activities and field trips that enhance STEM and The Arts education principles. Less advantaged children who have had little exposure to rich, stimulating learning experiences and the opportunity to explore extracurricular interests are able to spark their curiosity, develop critical thinking skills and have a greater understanding of the world around them.
The Summer Enrichment Program offers approximately 100 foster children exposure to comprehensive educational activities that foster intellectual and social development, team building, and provide a healthy outlet in promoting personal growth and exploration. The children’s exposure to hands-on learning experiences will seek to expand their minds and lead to new ways of thinking, living and seeing. Children in Crisis has a strong commitment to education and enrichment for children in foster care that work to remove the barriers for children who have may suffer from behavioral problems, slowed academic development and psychological distress due to abuse, neglect and abandonment. Hobbs Foundation funding supports quality enrichment programming that encourages intellectual development, reduced stress and emotional well-being, as well as social skills and better relationships with peers. Children will participate in field trips and hands-on learning activities this year at Exploreum, encouraging curiosity and exploration of STEM, scientific concepts and innovative discovery. The Exploreum provides the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts through innovative approaches including interactive hands-on play, exhibits and traveling exhibits, classes, workshops, demonstrations, lectures, and educational experiences as well as through the visual excitement of the J.L. Bedsole Theater (IMAX). Other educational field trips include the Kennedy Space Center, Dolphin Cruise, USS Alabama, and the Beach Sand Sculpture arts program.
Children’s Harbor provides a residential, family-style group home for long-term foster children in addition to community-based outreach services for the prevention of abuse and neglect. The residential program provides a home for 34 children, accommodating large sibling groups, pregnant and parenting teen foster care mothers and their babies, and focuses on keeping family networks together and support systems in tact during a time of crisis in a child’s life. The children’s homes utilize a house parent model that provides a consistent, stable home-like environment encouraging children to build safe, trusting relationships with adults and their peers and reduce the social and emotional barriers of trauma. Children’s Harbor provides a specialized residential sibling program that houses sibling groups removed from their homes and remain together in foster care as a family unit, reducing the trauma that results from feelings of separation anxiety and abandonment that many siblings involved in the child welfare system face. The organization's objectives are to strengthen and stabilize at-risk families, help children heal from the trauma of abuse and neglect through therapeutic interventions, and ensure a smooth transition out of the foster care system into adulthood. Children who are removed from their families are traumatized, not only by the abuse, neglect and abandonment they have experienced, but also by feelings of intense separation and loss. The trauma and stress that they experience have real consequences for their social and emotional well-being. Trauma and stress related behaviors, such as attention/concentration issues, anxiety, hyperactivity, anger outbursts, and impulsivity can manifest in the classroom, and become roadblocks to academic success.
Children’s Harbor Academic & Life Skills Program provides critical academic support and life skills education to each child residing on Children’s Harbor campus to increase their confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. A Life Coach assesses each child’s academic and life skill levels, and develops educational plans and interventions designed to improve their school performance. The Life Coach monitors children’s grades, meets with teachers and guidance counselors, attends open houses, checks on homework, assignments and projects, and arranges educational outings. Group sessions with the Life Coach and community partners teach children 13 years of age and older a variety of life skills they need to become self-reliant, ranging from communication and problem solving, to managing a household, to finding and keeping a job. Pregnant and/or parenting foster teens are taught the parenting and independent living skills they need to become self-sufficient and break the intergenerational cycle of abuse and neglect. The majority of the children and youth that are placed at Children's Harbor are behind academically. Parental neglect and transience often results in sporadic school attendance and numerous changes in school placements. Most of these children, particularly older youth, become disengaged and disinterested in school, and have lost the belief that they can succeed. Children's Harbor Academic and Life Skills Program strives to ensure that all foster children and youth have an enriched school experience that encourages them to view school as a positive, fun and explorative experience. Having a Life Coach guide and connect them with needed supports allows them to catch up and achieve greater academic success. For many of these children, the Life Coach is the first adult who has shown an active, daily interest in their educational progress. This consistent support motivates children to accomplish more, encourages them to become more engaged at school, and increases their participation in extracurricular activities. As they achieve success at school, children gain confidence in themselves and their abilities- this improves their self-esteem, and motivates them to accomplish more.
Children’s Home Network provides a faith-based, family-centered residential group home for children who have suffered from abuse, neglect and abandonment. Children’s Home Network seeks to create a home-like community that promotes a loving, nurturing environment that serves as a source of strength and stability for children in foster care. Their comprehensive program addresses the needs of children who have experienced chronic trauma, negative social behaviors and self-esteem issues and works to help children develop healthy coping skills and build positive relationships. Their individualized counseling model encourages children to discover their interests, develop their curiosities and build coping skills with caring support and positive mentorship. The Children’s Home’s Family Support services works to provide vital resources in support of state child welfare priorities of prevention and intervention to stabilize the increase in children involved in the child welfare system. Vocational and educational training, financial management, parenting classes and early intervention counseling services are provided to at-risk families, providing them the tools they need to support a stable and secure home for their children. The organization introduced the SEEDS (Supporting and Empowering Educational and Developmental Services) Program, a multi-disciplinary intervention partnership of local schools, community and family representatives. The program establishes a support system of service providers, a collective force to reduce or eliminate barriers, working with at-risk families in providing a safe, nurturing home environment, a reduction in the instance of child abuse, and a focus on education and healthy growth and development for children in need.
Children in foster care experience higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems that significantly impact their education compared to peers who have not been involved in the child welfare system. These behavior issues can be attributed to many conditions, perhaps most of all the trauma and abuse these children have experienced in their young lives. Most have a history of inconsistent school attendance and weak parental support for learning. Children’s Home Network partners with the University of South Florida’s Behavioral Analysis program to implement the Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) model that is currently used in the Hillsborough County school system with their children incorporated within their on-campus therapy to provide consistency with their school experience. The therapeutic residential treatment program provides a safe home, counseling, nutrition, healthcare, educational support, and enrichment activities for residential care children promoting academic success and prosocial activities beyond the classroom. The Explore After 4 Program seeks to build developmental assets through recreational programming during after-school and out-of-school time based on a therapeutic children’s development model using evidence-based practices from the Search Institute designed to address the social and emotional needs of foster children intended to improve gaps in healthy relationship-building, resiliency, self-awareness and responsible decision-making. These activities include outdoor team sports, biking, swimming, leadership council, music & art, dance, birthday parties and community service projects. Participation in structured learning activities that encourage peer bonding, positive goal setting and self-discipline helps children to build character, integrity, personal responsibility and a sense of purpose.
The Florida Baptist Children’s Homes provide faith-based residential group home and emergency shelter care to abused, neglected and abandoned children, teen pregnancy care and in-house foster care placement. Florida Baptist Children’s Homes work to fulfill the role as advocate on behalf of each child’s developmental, emotional and spiritual needs during a time of crisis. By instilling in children strong Christian values and the support of a dedicated, loving family, they have the opportunity to exemplify positive relationships, healthy lifestyles and achieve personal growth. This year Florida Baptist Children’s Home launched their Brave Moms program, a ministry serving single mothers and their children who need support, stability and encouragement in rebuilding their life and providing a brighter future for themselves and their family. Assistance is provided to single mothers from all walks of life so they can focus on resolving their individual circumstance and temporary family instability. While the mother works toward setting goals with the guidance of dedicated and supportive staff, she lives in a comfortable residential setting with her children, assisting young mothers with education and employment assistance, life skills and a strong social support system for the benefit of the family unit.
The Youth on a Mission Program offers children in foster care the opportunity, with the support of the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes associated rescue missions and shelters serving disadvantaged families and their children, to engage in community service efforts and experience the value of giving selflessly to others in need that encourages positive character development and trusting relationships. The program is designed to teach children about the importance of giving back and opening their eyes to the needs of their own communities, and to gain perspective on their own personal struggles with the knowledge that there are others with less fortune in need of physical and emotional support. Funds support lodging, fuel, food and supplies in traveling both throughout the state and abroad volunteering their time to contribute to mission projects to benefit the poor, homeless families and children.
Florida United Methodist Children’s Home provides faith-based residential group home care, emergency shelter care, independent living services, foster care placement and adoption services to abused, abandoned and neglected children. The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home utilizes a house parent model with campus programs that attend to each child’s educational, recreational, healthcare and therapeutic counseling needs during their healing process, facilitating the development of life management skills and emotional well- being that will carry them to successful, independent living. The Children’s Home has two Residential Care facilities. FUMCH has campuses located in Central Florida, Enterprise, and in North Florida in Madison County. Their early childhood center works to create a parent-teacher partnership to help their children gain the self-confidence needed for active learning, a sense of security, and promote healthy growth and development. The early childhood center offers a planned Montessori curriculum that includes studies in language, geography, cognitive development, dramatic play, math and science activities, and arts education. In 2017, FUMCH plans to expand their career-ready education program with the introduction of an agriscience curriculum that reinforces academic skills through both classroom instruction and applied laboratory procedures. The curriculum would incorporate skills that can be applied to everyday life and focusing on the real world applications of problem solving. Instruction modules include the evolution of agriculture, applied knowledge and skills in plant and food sciences, knowledge of natural resources, use of science and mathematics, reading, geography, written and oral communication of agriscience and technology concepts, scientific inquiry and research in implementing solutions for agricultural problems.
The Education Program at FUMCH is designed to meet the educational needs of foster children; developed to diagnose and place children in the best school situation possible based on individual strengths and challenges, and to both encourage and motivate our children to learn. FUMCH is seeking funding to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) training for children ages K-12 grade living on FUMCH residential campus. STEM is important because of the changes in technology and the growing careers in science, math, and technology. Children will be exposed to discovery and problem-solving techniques that are needed in the future to be college and career ready. The STEM training will focus on three learning types using kinesthetic, visual, and auditory styles, as well as utilizing two thinking styles, including divergent and convergent problem solving. Developing strong thinking and communication skills is essential for success in life. STEM’s perceived potential is to fulfill a child’s learning experience by aiding him or her in the ability to transfer learning. Children can solve new problems and draw conclusions based upon previously learned principles applied through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Through hands-on STEM opportunities, the children will develop an interest in learning and activities, develop capacity to productively engage in learning activities, and come to value learning activities. Funding supports the STEM education program agriscience curriculum with the goal for this school year to achieve a 75 percent success rate in increasing social-emotional learning skills including self-regulation and self-discipline, improvement in school grade point average from the previous year, and increased academic growth in the areas of reading comprehension, math and science.
Joshua House provides therapeutic emergency shelter care and a safe, permanent residential group home for abused, neglected and abandoned children, offering them a stable and nurturing, family- like environment during a time of recovery and personal growth. Their comprehensive program offers individual counseling, life skills training, educational opportunities and transitional support services. Joshua House offers a safe, family-like environment with a caring and dedicated staff that provides nurturing home for foster children in Hillsborough County. Joshua House continues to expand its service delivery in addressing some of our communities most significant cases of abuse, from human trafficking victims to radical attachment disorder derived from severe neglect. Joshua House provides children with wrap around services that address residential, therapeutic, and life enriching services. Local community-based care provides funding through the Florida Children’s Home Society and the Department of Children and Families for the basic needs of foster children in care. Friends of Joshua House seeks funding opportunities to capital for the restoration of the children’s homes, clothing, nutritional foods, allowances, but also for educational and life enrichment activities, life skills training, transitional services for children aging out of Joshua House, educational tutoring, computers and technology, and school supplies.
Funding supports the Joshua House Activities Program that will allow children to participate in after-school sports, animal therapy activities, prom and homecoming dances, birthday parties, vocational skills training, cooking classes, and community service. The younger children have had the chance to participate in summer and after-school extracurricular activities including little league baseball, football league, soccer, dance, and computer training courses. Joshua House seeks to provide quality of life enhancing, constructive, learning experiences that encourage structure, discipline, creativity and personal achievement. Their children will continue to develop their skills and talents that improve healthy and emotional wellbeing and interact with their peers to develop positive interpersonal relationships that heal trauma and emotional struggle. Costs include support for membership fees, equipment, supplies and transportation for the children's participation in after-school activities and summer camps. These activities enhance the quality of life for children who have experienced trauma and neglect by encouraging them to develop their interests, have a healthy, constructive outlet that supports cognitive, social and emotional development.
The Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco manages adoption services that enable children living in foster care to realize the dream of finding a permanent, loving family while raising awareness and fostering education about foster children in need of a stable, nurturing home. The Heart Gallery exhibit brings the community closer to the faces and voices of foster children with photography and personal information on each child in search of a family. The Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco was created in partnership with Eckerd Community Alternatives, the leading, licensed foster care provider in Pinellas and Pasco County with a mission of providing innovative programs that help to promote the adoption and enrichment of foster care children.
The Video Recruitment Project gives children long-awaiting adoption due to age, sibling group, length of stay or a troubling family history the opportunity to play a role in their own recruitment and a personally connected vehicle for reaching potential adoptive parents that is made available online, at exhibits and through care managers. Each child has the opportunity to share their thoughts, wishes, and hopes and develop a personal relationship with potential families that provides insight to each child's personality and personal needs. Funding supports expenses associated with production and editing, DVD and digital media copies and website accessibility for approximately 8-10 children awaiting adoption. As with our partnership with the Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay, the Pinellas and Pasco organization has implemented the Video Recruitment Project that features their longest waiting children and gives them the opportunity to play a role in their own recruitment for adoption and to personally connect with potential adoptive families. Video Recruitment has brought an innovative strategy in providing specialized recruitment for teens and sibling groups who often get overlooked and for those children who require specialized care that makes finding an appropriate family more difficult.
The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay manages adoption services that enable children living in foster care to realize the dream of finding a permanent, loving family while raising awareness and fostering education about foster children in need of a stable, nurturing home. The Heart Gallery exhibit brings the community closer to the faces and voices of foster children with photography and personal information on each child in search of a family. The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay is a collaborative effort of the Children’s Board and Camelot Community Care, Tampa Bay’s leading child welfare and behavioral health agency providing foster care services, case management, adoptions and therapeutic counseling with the goal of achieving permanency and a successful transition to independent living for foster children in Hillsborough County. This year, the Heart Gallery launched their new website with a functional design layout that boasts a user-friendly navigation to available children and adoption information, a back-end tracking system to input inquiries from prospective parents and partnering lead agencies, and mobile compatibility for prospective parents to access child availability updates and requests for information from any device.
The Video Recruitment Project gives children long-awaiting adoption due to age, sibling group, length of stay or a troubling family history the opportunity to play a role in their own recruitment and a personally connected vehicle for reaching potential adoptive parents that is made available online, at exhibits and through care managers. Each child has the opportunity to share their thoughts, wishes, and hopes and develop a personal relationship with potential families that provides insight to each child's personality and personal needs. Funding supports expenses associated with production and editing, DVD and digital media copies and website accessibility for approximately 10 children awaiting adoption. The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay will place a focus on teen adoption recruitment. Research suggests a myriad of negative outcomes for teens who age out of foster care, including low rates of economic mobility and education paired with higher instances of destructive behaviors, psychological instabilities and involvement in the criminal justice system. The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay’s video recruitment project seeks to connect these youth with forever families, and permanent, loving homes that support social and emotional well-being, stability and self-sufficiency.
Heartland for Children is a community-based care child welfare agency that provides child welfare management for the regional foster care system, overseeing the provision of services for abused, neglected and abandoned children including case management, adoption, individual and family counseling services and independent living. Heartland for Children (HFC) is currently serving over 2,000 children and is the non-profit lead agency overseeing Community Based Care in Circuit 10, which encompasses Hardee, Highlands and Polk Counties. As the Child Welfare Lead Agency, HFC is concerned with the welfare of children in our community, and as such, our mission is to improve the safety, permanency and well- being for all children in Hardee, Highlands and Polk Counties. Heartland strives to improve the standard of safety, permanency and wellbeing of foster care youth, providing additional resources for a well- rounded, high-quality of life for the typically underserved children living within the foster care system. Additionally, Heartland for Children coordinates a community wide effort to provide information and resources to parents/caregivers, professionals, business partners and community leaders on how each person in our community can help contribute to preventing child abuse and neglect.
The Foster Family Appreciation Program holds activities, celebrations and achievement recognition events for foster children and their families with fun-filled field trips including a day at a local theme park (Busch Gardens, Lego Land, Sea World and Universal Studios) and the opportunity for foster parents, children and their, often separated, siblings to nurture their relationship, spend quality time enjoying each other and create lasting memories as well as engaging in crucial learning experiences that help to build a mentoring relationship bond. Building trusting relationships with positive role models allows children who have experienced trauma find the social and emotional support they need to develop coping skills and make healthy choices. Remaining funds support after-school outings and activities in recognition of academic achievement for foster children who have maintained good grades and attendance in school. Children living in foster care are rarely afforded the opportunity to participate in many of the social, extracurricular activities that create fulfilling childhood memories. These activities allow foster children to have positive social and emotional experiences that are critical to healthy personal growth and development while providing positive incentives for their commitment to their academic studies for children in foster care.
Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth (HANDY) provides education and empowerment opportunities to abused, neglected and abandoned youth living in foster or relative care with comprehensive programming that focuses on youth development, positive mentoring, and financial self-sufficiency upon transition to independence. HANDY offers vulnerable youth in need of positive attention and care with personalized case management, educational support services, recreational activities and life skills counseling. Children placed with a Relative/Non Relative Caregiver are not eligible for the services that Foster Care children receive, even though they are facing the same fears, anxieties, and feelings of hopelessness. Most of these caregivers are economically disadvantaged living on fixed incomes. HANDY meets the individual needs of these children and youth by providing a network of support and guidance, a surrogate family as HANDY staff says, that creates a lasting bond. These positive mentor relationships allow youth from difficult circumstances to heal, grow, learn and flourish as productive, self-sufficient members of their community. HANDY’s Stars for Life Program gives struggling at-risk youth tutoring and afterschool activities in middle and high school to improve academic performance and motivate each student to reach their full potential, pursue higher education and build self confidence.
With an enhanced focus on education, HANDY combines case management and educational programs in a supportive, family-like environment. HANDY’s programs are modeled on the nationally recognized, culturally competent curriculum from Casey Family Programs, the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families across America. the LIFE (Life skills, Independent living, Foundation building, Education/Employment) Program, which has provided hands-on life skills training, independent living assistance, youth development services, mentoring linkages and facilitation, employability skills training and placement, individual case management, educational tutelage and access to major colleges in the state of Florida. Through this program, HANDY has provided these services to more than 500 youth, ages 9-14, during after school hours. HANDY has provided afternoon tutoring, utilizing a minimum of two Broward County teachers, to assist in providing educational guidance for youth and we also work hand in hand with our local school officials and HANDY’s Director of Education to make sure the needs of our students are met effectively. At least three of our community based staff is TOP certified and we have a high retention and attendance rate for this age group. The LIFE program seeks to increase academic success, facilitate high school graduation and enrollment post-secondary education and training; increase knowledge of life skills and pre-employment and social competencies; increase self-sufficiency for by assisting in securing and maintaining gainful employment; and prevent incidence of negative social behaviors often associated with youth involved in the dependency system.
Place of Hope is a faith-based child welfare agency with an array of services for children in need including emergency shelter care, family-style residential group home care for foster children, traditional foster care and adoption services, family outreach and intervention services, transitional housing and a stable, nurturing home environment for abused, neglected and abandoned children, and Hope House, FL, a safe house that offers professional case management, independent living services and educational opportunities for children who are victims of human trafficking. Place of Hope launched a Human Trafficking Initiative in which we provide comprehensive support services for the victims of labor and sex trafficking throughout all of our programs. These services include professional case management, access to quality medical care, counseling and therapy, tutoring, mentoring, essential life-skills development, hope, and healing opportunities. In addition to this, we provide consistent residential care, supervision, and healthy influences that strive to meet each of our children and youth’s physical, emotional, social, educational, and spiritual needs. The Place of Hope program model strives to instill a consistent, structured alternative home where children who have experienced trauma or abuse can learn core values in forming healthy relationships, demonstrating personal responsibility and character development. Place of Hope strives to foster and support healthy and productive lives, free from fear, endangerment, and most of all, abuse. Children and families can find dignity, guidance, and hope through a variety of comprehensive educational and therapeutic programs. Place of Hope was ranked as the number one rated nonprofit for Youth Development, Shelter, and Crisis Services in the nation by Charity Navigator.
Place of Hope continues their funding request of support to purchase clothing and undergarments for a significant increase in incoming foster children placed in their family cottages, and emergency shelter and assessment center. The organization works to provide a stable, loving home that maintains a sense of permanency that enables personal growth and healthy development, minimizing the trauma and stress associated with the transition to foster care by addressing their basic needs. Children entering foster care often come from an unstable living situation with no clothing or personal belongings. Each child receives their necessary clothing and a “blessing bag” that includes a Bible, blanket, toy, and toiletries.
The Salvation Army, St. Petersburg provides family-style residential group home, emergency shelter care for up to 48 children and child-focused counseling services to abused, neglected and abandoned children with a diverse team of community volunteers, officers and staff who are passionately committed to meeting the urgent human needs; encouraging salvation and offering hope, dignity and the opportunity to achieve self-reliance. Children’s Village offers long-term foster children a stable, caring living environment in traditional single family homes where they can learn to count on family, friends, school, church and their community with a dedicated support system in place to guide them as learn and grow. Sallie House is a safe haven for emergency shelter care for children who have been removed from their homes until a more permanent placement can be established. Directly adjacent to the Children’s Village and Sallie House property is The Salvation Army, St. Petersburg Citadel. At the Citadel, The Salvation Army assists at-risk youth by providing a weekly Character Building Program. The goal of the program is to help children build positive social and communication habits, decision making and life skills, and build character and leadership skills. In addition, the Citadel’s Community Center provides a safe haven for young people to come and participate in organized athletics.
The Enrichment Experiences Project provides foster children with the opportunity to experience and be exposed to positive social and cultural influences that lead to a greater sense of perspective, purpose and self-esteem while increasing critical thinking and problem solving skills necessary for higher academic performance. Activities include educational field trips and after-school outings to parks, zoos, movies, museums, sporting events etc. Activity funds also support the Community Outreach Center where children served in both Sallie House and Children’s Village have a space for organized sports and other recreational activities that promote a productive, safe outlet for children to grow socially, emotionally and physically, learning the importance of team work, goal-setting and discipline. Remaining funds support repair and revitalization to the community center’s courtyard and playground space that allows for new rubberized foundation, picnic tables and playground equipment for children and teens to enjoy outdoor recreational play.
Voices For Children Foundation’s (Voices) mission is “to raise funds to ensure that every abused and neglected child in Miami-Dade County has a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem and that financial assistance and other resources are available for their health, educational and social needs.” With Voices’ steadfast support, conservatively 31,500 dependent children and youth or 75 percent of the 42,000 total represented by Miami Guardian ad Litem have successfully achieved permanency since inception. In 2016-2017, a total of 3,694 children were represented by Miami GAL with 95 percent securing safe & stable placements and 85 percent achieving permanency. Voices for Children works on the front lines as the first touch point for children who have been removed from their homes, taking on the role of guardian, confidant and mentor for children and youth who are entering the child welfare system, stabilizing and easing the emotional processing of having been abruptly uprooted and placed into alternative housing. The primary goal of Voices and Miami GAL is for all Miami-Dade children/youth under court supervision to achieve the national objectives for dependent children: to be in safe, permanent homes where their physical and emotional well-being will flourish. Miami Guardian ad Litem activities include child advocacy; the ongoing supervision and support of screened and trained, certified staff advocates and volunteers in addition to Voices for Children staff who both advocate for children directly and supervise Guardian ad Litem volunteers all who work in tandem with Miami Guardian ad Litem attorneys to provide informed and timely legal representation of children in Dependency court. Volunteer Recruitment focused on the recruitment of caring volunteers from numerous community organizations, businesses, educational institutions and faith-based organizations as well as referrals from active Guardian ad Litem and Voices’ advocates and to provide children served by Guardian ad Litem with timely direct financial assistance, educational and other resources they need to thrive that supplements insufficient state and Federal expenditures.
The Children’s Needs Fund provides direct financial assistance for basics such as food, clothing, school uniforms, etc. plus needed equipment, fees, instruments and more so that children can participate in enrichment and extracurricular activities that suit their individual interests and/or talents that provides them with important opportunities to experience childhood “normalcy;” and Educational support for dependent children and youth to optimize their chances to succeed in school, earn a high school diploma or its equivalent, and attend college or a post-secondary vocational or technical school, and any other assistance needed in working toward sustaining gainful employment and independent living. An estimated 500 unduplicated dependent children and youth will receive school uniforms, tutoring, summer camps, various after school sports, extracurricular school programs, and senior year activities important for school success and to promote positive child and youth development as documented by ChildNet Program records. An estimated 100 unduplicated dependent children and youth will be provided with the opportunity to participate in important childhood activities to promote positive child and youth development including visual arts, music, and or photography classes and workshops with professional artists. More importantly, the children and youth served by Voices for Children Foundation of Miami-Dade will have a dedicated guardian committed to the success and well-being of each child underrepresented by the state dependency system, becoming a source of strength, comfort and guidance in their time of need.
Voices For Children provides support for abused, neglected and abandoned children in the Tampa Bay community while the judicial system searches for a safe and healthy permanent foster home to place those children removed from their homes. The state child welfare system does not have the resources to fully address all of the needs of children in care. The goal of Voices For Children is to augment the supportive services by providing personal, educational, medical and legal support and appointing a Guardian ad Litem to act in each child’s individual interests, identifying and developing additional resources in order to ease the transition of children to foster care. This includes, but is not limited to, recruiting, training, and supporting court appointed Guardians ad Litem so that they may, in turn, provide the dependency courts with the full picture of each child’s individual interests. Voices for Children of Tampa Bay, Inc. believes that the ultimate goal of providing this dedicated advocacy to 100% of the abused, neglected, and abandoned children in our community will allow the dependency system to effectively determine the best interest of each child. Voices for Children of Tampa Bay was founded in 1986 as the Child Advocacy Guild, Inc. The original stated purpose of the organization was to initiate fundraising events & methods and to direct those funds to appropriate activities of the Guardian ad Litem Program; to promote awareness of the activities of the program and to encourage volunteer resources; and to encourage community activity and awareness. Voices for Children started with a need; that the interests of every abused and neglected child be represented by a Guardian ad Litem in court. While the benefits of this are immeasurable to the child, there aren’t enough Guardian Advocates for all of Hillsborough County’s abused and neglected children.
The Children’s Needs Fund provides direct financial assistance for basics such as food, clothing, school uniforms, etc. plus needed equipment, fees, instruments and more so that children can participate in enrichment and extracurricular activities that suit their individual interests and/or talents that provides them with important opportunities to experience childhood “normalcy;” and Educational support for dependent children and youth to optimize their chances to succeed in school, earn a high school diploma or its equivalent, and attend college or a post-secondary vocational or technical school, and any other assistance needed in working toward sustaining gainful employment and independent living. There are currently 3,600 children in the Hillsborough County system, of which Voices for Children of Tampa Bay serves 67% and increasing each year, providing out-of-school opportunities to offer a sense of stability and belonging to children who have experienced a lack of connection with social relationships, community and a healthy environment to grow and develop.
Youth Haven provides a residential group home, emergency shelter care, and social support services to abused, neglected and abandoned children including life skills education, child and substance abuse prevention, homelessness and crisis intervention, and individual and group counseling services. Youth Haven’s comprehensive continuum of care offers children a safe and caring home environment with the inspiration, guidance and support needed for healthy growth and development. Their secluded campus affords children who have suffered from trauma and abuse a sense of comfort and security with a range of outdoor recreational and social activities. Their emergency shelter is an immediate lifeline of safety and compassion for severely traumatized children that have been removed from their homes. Children between the ages of 6 to 17, which are referred to our programs, stay on the average of 104 days and possibly longer. In the teen program the number of girls that are homeless is slightly higher than that young men. Their needs are unique and with a therapeutic program focused on prevention, they will have opportunities to test their thinking on self-image, self-worth, and develop skills that will be empowering and life-sustaining. Youth Haven’s therapeutic and preventative programs reach deep into the community touching the lives of over 3,000 youth. Complex trauma is particularly devastating and can affect many areas of a child's development, functioning, attachment, cognition, mood regulation, behavior control, physiology and self- concept. The team of mental health clinicians of the Children & Family Counseling Center at Youth Haven offers compassionate care to help mend lives. Clinical staff provide traditional therapies, in addition to evidence-based practices for individual and family counseling. Staff maintain special training, credentials and experience working with children, youth and teens. Highly innovative in their approaches to best serve the needs of the children, they use play and sand therapy, animal assisted therapy and art therapy. These therapeutic approaches are unique in Southwest Florida for children experiencing abuse, separation from family connections, and homelessness.
Youth Haven proposes to use grant funds from the Hobbs Foundation to provide enrichment, educational and recreational activities for children, ages 6-18, residing in the emergency shelter at Youth Haven in East Naples. Funds will be used to provide them with opportunities to attend camps and/or after school programs, receive tutoring, participate in athletics and fitness classes, participate in a wide array of art enrichment including both on- and off-campus activities such as dance, painting, ceramics, outings at visual arts and performance arts events, museums, and cultural events. They will also participate in nature enrichment on- campus and will go on outings to visit places like the zoo, local gardens, parks and nature sanctuaries. They will be provided with opportunities to experience normalizing recreational activities that they would otherwise be unable to access, such as trips to the movies, bowling, bounce center and mini-golf. Participation in healthy interest-based activity stimulates focus, curiosity, motivation and resiliency that improves children who have experienced trauma the ability to adapt with self-confidence, manage stress and anxiety, and boost cognitive performance.