4KIDS of South Florida has launched an innovative video project called Undercover Heroes that allows South Floridians to walk in a vulnerable child’s shoes and glimpse into a world they’ve never imagined. Doug Sauder, president of 4KIDS, says their goal is to take people behind the veil and have them experience the world of the new American orphan. This 30-minute documentary will air on prime time on local television stations during the month of November and be available on DVD. “We hope to educate people about the foster kids in our own backyard and partner with 1,000 sponsors to help provide them with food, clothing, shelter, and most importantly – a family,” says Sauder.
“Our ‘long-term’ goal is to raise awareness about children in crisis in communities throughout the U.S.,” Sauder explains. “The documentary, also called ‘Undercover Heroes,’ showcases the plight of half a million kids in this country, offering hope and solutions to the predicament of modern-day orphans. It shows what can happen when an individual springs into action – and how life can change dramatically when a community believes that every child deserves a safe family.”
Sauder and 4KIDS are encouraging concerned folks to host Undercover Heroes parties in their homes. “Hosting an Undercover Heroes Party-With-A-Mission gives people an opportunity to share the plight of the modern-day orphan with their friends and co-workers – and help us reach our goal of raising 1,000 child sponsors,” says Sauder.
4KIDS has been at the forefront of Florida’s family welfare crisis for nearly 15 years. Tom Lukasik, executive director, says Florida’s foster care system was known for being one of the worst in the country back in the early 1990s, but now the situation has changed dramatically. “A partnership of individuals, churches, corporations and foundations came together to establish 4KIDS. The need for foster homes was made known, and one by one, undercover heroes stepped up to make a difference for Florida’s most vulnerable children,” Lukasik shares.
That model is still working – 13 years and over 15,000 kids later – as ordinary people dive in and become undercover heroes, inspiring even more in the process. Today, the community has embraced the vision and 4KIDS has become a leader in the foster care movement.
Sharing the Vision
The “Undercover Heroes” documentary tells that story. Produced by Lonnie Fravel of Exodus Productions, it takes an up-close look at the plight of two local kids, Mez and CeCe, who were struggling to survive in a world of violence and neglect. It demonstrates how ordinary folks – “undercover heroes” – can offer hope to kids in crisis and ultimately solve the problem of modern-day orphans.
“If children are downing in a lake, heroes dive in and save them,” says Sauder. “Now imagine that same scenario, except instead of drowning in a lake, kids are drowning in sexual abuse and domestic violence. That’s what is happening here in South Florida – and sadly, around the nation.”
Local leaders and business owners in South Florida are catching the vision. Wayne and Fonda Huizenga Jr., owners of Huizenga Holdings, are urging more people to get involved. “We have a chance to break the cycle. If we come together, we can solve the foster care crisis,” said Wayne Huizenga Jr.
4KIDS is also gaining state and national attention. Jim Kallinger, who worked in the governor’s office as Florida’s chief child advocate, has high praise for 4KIDS, saying the agency is “successfully recruiting quality families to foster and adopt Florida’s most vulnerable children who are in need of nurturing homes.”
In addition, Focus on the Family’s president, Jim Daly, is joining with 4KIDS in the cause. “We’re proud to serve together with 4KIDS to find more families for the modern-day orphan,” Daly said.
Serving the community since 1999, 4KIDS has become a lead voice for South Florida’s most vulnerable children. 4KIDS of South Florida is a child welfare agency offering hope and healing to abused and neglected children by receiving every child who is removed from their home and brought into the child-welfare system in Broward County through the Safe Place 4KIDS shelter, as well as to teens aging out of foster care or in a crisis pregnancy in nine different family style homes.
With over 100 licensed foster homes in Broward and Palm Beach counties, 4KIDS has provided a loving home for over 15,000 kids in the last 13 years. Additionally, eight other family-style homes provide care for difficult-to-place teens and allow sibling groups to remain together.
Visit www.HERO4KIDS.org for more information on becoming an undercover hero and sponsoring a modern-day orphan. Call 855-HERO-4KIDS to donate over the phone or receive details on hosting an Undercover Heroes party.
November 12 at 7:00 p.m. on NBC (PalmBeach/Broward/Dade).
November 25 – December 2 at 10:00 a.m. on ION Cable TV (Palm Beach/Broward/Dade).
Statistics You Should Know
● Every day in South Florida, 7 kids are removed
from their homes due to abuse or neglect.
● 7 children every day are waiting for a hero
to say, “You matter to me!”
● 700 children enter the foster care system every
day in the United States.
● There are over 500,000 orphans in the United States
Local Support Churches:
On November 5-6, the 4KIDS Undercover Heroes program will be featured at 22 local churches during Orphan Sunday weekend, with selected sneak previews to build community support.
Starbucks in Broward County will promote 4KIDS Undercover Heroes throughout November.