Always doing better for kids
We owe to kids to consistently find ways to do it better. So we do.
After decades of research revealed that abuse is generational, we declared our ambitious goal: to break this tragic cycle in more families. And we have. But we’ve done so much more, too – all because we believe kids, teens and families deserve the very best we can give.
Strong family bonds
Research shows that families who read together develop strong bonds. So we created the READ! program to encourage parents to read with their kids. Our generous donors helped us create libraries of books for every age and reading level, so every family can participate. Plus, our READ! program offers a comfortable way for parents to improve their own literacy, which can open doors for education and employment, allowing more opportunities for them to provide for their families.
A family "home"
Kids in foster care have already lost their sense of what it means to be “normal.” And teens finding safety in a group home struggle even more with this loss. So we found a solution - and, wow, is it incredible! Our haven in Panama City, Clair’s House, has become more than a home for girls in foster care – it’s a family. Our girls enjoy family dinners and trips together, decorate the house, celebrate holidays and birthdays together, and support each other with schoolwork. Grades soar, self-esteem blossoms and dreams flourish.
Kids and teens who’ve suffered trauma have learned one thing in life: survival. Many times, it’s hard for them to transition out of survival mode, to understand how to dream, to look toward opportunities for future success. So we meet them where they’re at, and we offer creative activities that encourage them to explore new passions, which may lead to career or life aspirations. Some teens find their creative outlet in broadcast media, others find the peace they’ve yearned for during yoga, and some have found their culinary talents during cooking class.
Sometimes, kids are so severely traumatized that they’re unable to understand or control their emotions and behaviors. Now imagine being a foster parent, responsible for the safety, well-being, health and encouragement of these children and teens. Our foster parents have tremendous hearts and patience – but we realized they needed more. So we implemented training, resources and support to help foster parents understand trauma and feel confident parenting traumatized children in a way that contributes toward their healing and well-being.
When kids struggle with deep family challenges - poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, homelessness, hunger, for instance - it's pretty tough to think about passing a test or graduating high school. Beyond the impact these issues have on a child's ability to focus in school, it's incredibly difficult for families to find the help they need when they're battling a myriad of issues. So we're working with committed partners – Orange County Public Schools, the University of Central Florida, and other health, cultural and social service organizations – to integrate programs, activities and services into the education and lives of students in struggling communities. Our first "community school" opened in 2012 in Orlando to serve Evans High School students and their families. Services will continue to evolve with the community, rooting Evans Community School into the heart of the community.
And that’s just a glimpse into how we’re doing better by kids every day! We’re constantly looking to the latest research and exploring opportunities to continually improve how we help children and families. We do it because our kids deserve it.