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.
Kids Village therapeutic residential program serves children that are in the local Foster care system and have experienced abuse and neglect; some have been abandoned by their families. All of the children have mental health disorders and may be developmentally delayed. Due to the nature of their hardships, many of the children struggle with behavioral issues and lag behind their peers academically. The mothers and mother-to-be also have suffered from abuse and neglect and are faced with the added challenge of parenthood. Children’s Home Network along with the University of South Florida’s Behavioral Analysis program implements the Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) model that reinforces consistency and the reduction of negative behaviors. Each child’s individualized care plan focuses on therapy for emotional and mental healing, recreational activities for physical well-being and relationship building, and education to address learning challenges and prepare them for age-appropriate schooling and independent living. The CARES program detailed below plays a major role in realizing our goals and objectives. Campus Activities, Recreation and Education Services (CARES) initiative was established to provide year-round opportunities for the children and youth residing on our campus to participate in educational support and enrichment, recreational activities, events, field trips, and vocational training opportunities. These programs facilitate a greater perspective of new opportunities and new ways of life, while increasing cognitive development and social and cultural awareness.
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. Brookwoodprimarily 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. Brookwoodstaff 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 BrookwoodFlorida 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 Brookwoodthat 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 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 designed to engage children in self-esteem building, STEM education principles, history lessons, and arts education including trips to the Exploreum, Kennedy Space Center, Dolphin Cruise, USS Alabama Museum, and the Beach and Sand Structures event.
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 most recent development is the introduction of a Drop-In Center for homeless teens. The program provides intensive case management with a strengths-based approach that meets the individual needs of the youth and encourages them to set and pursue their own goals. Case managers work to provide a foundation of support and stability that gives teens the opportunity to pursue educational, employment and secure housing. Their newly adopted Rapid Re-Housing program assess the critical needs of homeless families and children in the surrounding community and facilitates immediate, permanent housing. Youth Haven provides children and families experiencing homelessness receive trauma-informed counseling, outpatient behavioral health services, individualized and group therapy for parents and children.
Youth Haven utilizes grants funds to provide enrichment, educational and recreational activities for youth residing in their emergency shelter. Children have the opportunity to participate in after-school programs, camps, sports and fitness classes, art therapy, dance, visual and performing arts. Additionally, funds support individualized academic tutoring and educational field trips that work with children on track with grade level and identify where extra support is needed to excel in their studies. 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. In 2018, Youth Haven has adopted the use of The Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale in order to assess the degree of impairment in youth relating to emotional, behavioral, psychiatric, or with teen population, any issues with substance abuse. The CAFAS provides an objective, comprehensive assessment of a youth’s needs that is sensitive to change to over time. Information is collected that describe the youth’s problematic behaviors, as well as strengths and goals over eight life domains: At School, At Home, in the Community (delinquency), Behavior Toward Others, Moods/Emotions, Self-Harm, Substance Use, and Thinking (assessing irrationality). A total score and subscale scores are generated, with higher scores indicating greater impairment in day-to-day functioning. Therefore, as treatment progresses, lower CAFAS total and subscale scores indicate improvement. With the use of evidence-based data, Youth Haven works to improve outcomes for children and families through comprehensive care designed to most effectively address the barriers for children in care, improve their resiliency and promote healthy development.
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. This year, HANDY was recognized as the “Organization of the Year” at the Annual South Florida Community Care Network Non-Profit Academy Awards for its accomplishments in shaping young lives and families across the region’s diverse community.
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. 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. This year, HANDY introduces a new and innovative Career Pathways program. This program utilizes social work defined case management strategies, career development exposure, experiential activities and additional services to empower youth to achieve their greatest career potential. Our program offers an effective approach for our youth to enter a skilled workforce. Youth who are exposed, will gain experience and eventually obtain industry-recognized academic credentials necessary to work in careers that are in high demand. Broward County has a critical need for skilled, diverse workers in expanding industries, with a particular focus on construction, health services, manufacturing, and technology. Through our partnerships, our youth will have access to training programs such as work experience (WEX), on the job training (OJT), internships and apprenticeships. Youth are exposed to a wide range of sectors including arts and sciences, marine, tourism and hospitality, and energy.
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 foster 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. This year FUMCH expanded their Equine Assisted Psychotherapy for children living at their Madison County campus that has had positive results in reducing the affects of trauma on children, relieving stress and anxiety in building a trusting, non-threatening bond with the animals. This process has shown to counteract feelings of emotional distress and abandonment correlated neuro-psychological disruption that inhibits health and wellness later in life. FUMCH piloted its STEM education program on its main Central Florida campus that works to prepare their children for success in secondary education through project-based learning and analytical thinking. Partnering with the Children’s Home on the launch of this STEM education program is Bethune- CookmanUniversity, Mentis Sciences, Inc., and Raytheon. These valuable partners have provided the staff at Legacy Scholars Academy with curriculum, equipment, and training specific to STEM education in the classroom. Mentis and Raytheon provided students the Mentis Sciences Educational Toolkit (MSET). The MSET offers a unique view into the world of material testing and physical science in a scaled, portable setup. Through MSET, students engage in real-world material testing concepts and experiments ranging from buckling of columns to impact dynamics.
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. This year, FUMCH implements their Digital Arts andComputer Technology class that affords children an opportunity to earn a certification in Microsoft Office upon successful completion of the course. The Digital Design class will focus on the foundations of digital drawing, painting, and design. The curriculum will provide a chance to introduce the children into a career or vocational path. Various local state colleges and area private colleges offer Digital Arts certifications and degrees. FUMCH will reach out to these departments and area professionals to bring experts into the classroom and offer tours to post-secondary educational opportunities with digital arts study programs.
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 6-10 children awaiting adoption. In addition,the Digital Gallery project would allow the Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco to expand our use of digital galleries throughout Pinellas and Pasco counties. The digital display loops photographs and videos of currently available children in foster care, providing heightened exposure for children in high traffic community spaces. While requiring a higher upfront cost, the digital galleries are more cost effective over time as they may be updated remotely, and are able to feature more children in one space. Funding would provide for a digital gallery in the community, at a location to be determined. This gallery would be our first compact digital gallery better suited to local spaces such as banks or high traffic waiting areas or lobbies, and give us a template to use for additional similar galleries throughout our community.
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 20 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.
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 is consistently ranked as the number one rated nonprofit for Youth Development, Shelter, and Crisis Services in the nation by Charity Navigator, and the leading agency in specialized care for victims of human trafficking.
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, approximately 150 children. 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.
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.
Despite State and local mandates for Miami GAL Program representation for all Miami-Dade County dependent children and youth ages birth to 22 years, insufficient funding requires additional public and private grants and private contributions be secured to meet the needs of these most vulnerable members of the community. With Voices’ steadfast support and consistent growth, a conservative estimate of 32,000 dependent children/youth or 75% of the approximate total 42,667 represented by the Miami GAL Program have successfully achieved permanency since 1984. With Voices’ growing support, nearly 90% of all Miami-Dade dependent children and youth are currently represented by the Miami GAL Program, with an average 85% of those whose cases close successfully achieving permanency. To achieve its mission, Voices is more committed than ever to implementing strategic broad-based fundraising and innovative programming initiatives. These aim to maximize financial support and raise community awareness about the dire need for effective advocacy and legal representation for all Miami-Dade children and youth in foster care. This includes the most vulnerable of all: formerly abused, neglected or abandoned children who are now youth victims of human trafficking. The secondary goal of Voices and the Miami GAL Program is to provide dependent children served by GAL advocates with timely direct financial assistance plus educational and other resources they need to thrive through the Voices Children’s Need Fund.
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 ChildNetProgram 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.
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.
The Children’s Needs Fund provides children placed in emergency care under the state child welfare system with the basic needs that allows them the opportunity for a higher quality of life and a feeling of normalcy that eases their adjustment to their new environment, facilitates their involvement in everyday childhood activities and emotional stability that prepares them for placement with a foster family or group home. Funding is used to provide clothing, personal items, toiletries, school supplies, furniture, and bedding to fulfill the basic needs of children who have been abruptly removed from their homes, often times, with no personal belongings with them. Remaining funds supports the costs of foster family recruitment efforts that help connect each child to the Heart Gallery and Eckerd Youth Alternatives to facilitate their adoption with a forever family.
Joshua House serves approximately 150-200 children per year. Most children are projected to have a 9-month therapeutic program, but many children move through at a more rapid pace and others stay for much longer. All children receive therapy to address the trauma endured from abuse. They continue to address some of our communities most significant cases of abuse, from human trafficking victims to radical and reactive attachment disorder derived from severe neglect or sexual abuse. Joshua House provides at-risk children in foster care with critical wrap-around services that address residential, therapeutic, and life enriching services. The organization anticipates serving children in our residential services in 2018-2019. They have expanded with a new home and have increased the capacity of children served and the budget for this project due to the overwhelming number of children entering foster care in Hillsborough County. Unfortunately, the lead child welfare provider for foster care in our district will not increase funding to Joshua House; therefore, they will be relying on our community to help us provide the services.
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 for approximately 200 children. 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. Additionally, they offer multiple group activities specially designed to address self image, integrity, journaling, creative writing and interpersonal relationship development.
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 foster care children 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.
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.
Children’s Harbor Academic & Life Skills Program provides essential academic and life skills education to each of the children who reside on our campus. The program focuses on three issues we believe can change the trajectory of their lives: education, life skills, and a successful transition to independence. An array of age-appropriate, comprehensive services is provided to all, designed to inspire them to rise above the adversities they face and succeed in life- from life skills education, to academic advocacy and support, to financial literacy, career exploration, and employment opportunities. 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. he educational objectives of Children’s Harbor Academic and Life Skills Program is to ensure that all foster children and youth have an enriched school experience. Last fiscal year, children participated in many extracurricular activities, including Track & Field, Basketball, Varsity Football, Drama and Art. 93% of children maintained passing grades, improved test scores or improved academically in school based on grade average or GED progress; and 100% of eligible students were promoted to the next grade or received their GED.