If a child was in trouble in your backyard, would you help? Every day, 7 to 11 kids are removed from their homes in South Florida due to abuse and neglect. Their lives are turned upside down as they enter the foster care system with no place to call their own. These children and teens live in your neighborhood. You pass them by in grocery stores and in your schools. Their crisis is Close to Home.
In our community, there are not enough foster homes for kids. Children are often separated from their siblings, sent to shelters or moved out of the county, sometimes hundreds of miles away from friends, their school and all that is familiar. This heartbreak is close to home.
As president of 4KIDS, a faith-based nonprofit committed to providing a home for every child, Kevin Enders sees the faces and hears the stories of kids in crisis every day. Just last month 12-year-old Hayli, 9-year-old Zach and 7-year-old Zoe (not their real names) were removed from their home because of their parents’ mental health. There were no 4KIDS homes available for them. As a result they will likely be separated and the oldest, Haylie may be sent to a group home.
Then there’s the 7-year-old girl who has seen people use drugs in front of her over and over again. She has missed 21 days of school this year and will likely repeat kindergarten for a third time next year as an 8-year-old.
A brother and sister, ages two and five, were removed from their filthy, bug-infested home where they had no food to eat, and neither of them had ever used a toothbrush.
But perhaps the most heart-wrenching reality is the 15-year-old boy, who has been waiting for months in a group home, yet there is no foster home available for him. He sleeps in adult diapers because of the horrific sexual abuse he has endured.
These kids will continue to be lost in the shadows within our own community unless someone like you cares enough to help rescue them. However, Enders is optimistic. “I believe this crisis is solvable because of the individual victories I have seen in the lives of kids. When they are placed in a loving environment, that deep sense of hopelessness they experience is replaced with joy.”
Enders insists that every child deserves a home and a family – the very best family for them. That means a family in their own neighborhood, who can keep siblings together and is equipped to love kids from hard places well. There are about 99 kids per month who are unable to receive the life-changing care 4KIDS families provide due to lack of open foster homes. That’s why 4KIDS is bringing awareness to this great need during National Foster Care Month in May with a special 4KIDS Close to Home social media campaign.
Take a stand for kids
Through this effort, you can take a stand for kids and keep them Close to Home. Here’s how:
Step 1 – Visit 4KIDS.us/ClosetoHome and see how many kids were removed from your zip code on their interactive map.
Step 2 – Write the number of kids removed from your zip code on your palm, take a selfie and use #ClosetoHome4KIDS. Post it on your social media accounts and challenge your friends to stand with you by doing the same.
Step 3 – Make a donation that reflects the number of kids removed in your zip code. For example, if 17 kids were removed from your zip code, consider giving $17. Or, get your business or church involved as a group and raise the $4,340 needed to sponsor a child through 4KIDS for one year.
What makes a 4KIDS family different?
4KIDS brings hope to babies, kids, teens, and young adults by providing safe and secure environments for healing, equipped parents and caregivers who are trained to love kids from hard places, essential resources to meet their physical needs, nurturing counsel to help them thrive, and a renewed sense of value in their hearts.
- SafePlace 4KIDS in Palm Beach County extends comfort and refuge to children when they are first removed from their home.
- 4KIDS foster families welcome hundreds of children who are removed from their homes each year across six Florida counties, providing them with loving homes.
- 4KIDS family-style homes keep siblings together, offer teens a real family, and give a refuge for girls at risk of human trafficking.
- 4KIDS His Caring Place offers young women facing unplanned pregnancies guidance, support, and a safe home.
- 4KIDS Spirit of Success Institute provides Independent Living Homes to equip young adults, ages 18 -23, who have aged out of the foster system but have no family to turn to for support.
- 4KIDS EPIC Therapeutic Approach equips families to love and support children who have endured trauma from prior abuse and neglect and may struggle to thrive.
What can you do?
Here are three ways you can advocate for kids in crisis.
- Use your voice. See the need and participate in the Close to Home Campaign. 4KIDS.us/ClosetoHome
- Open your home to a child in need by becoming a foster parent. Learn how at 4KIDS.us/programs/foster-care/steps.
- Discover your part in the vision during a 4KIDS open house June 14, focused on ways you can make a difference in the lives of kids in crisis. Visit 4KIDS.us/OpenHouse to register.
Photo 1: Kevin Enders, president of 4KIDS of South Florida; Norman Kravitz, chairman of the board of 4KIDS of South Florida and president/CEO of Phoenix Package Logistics
Photo 2: A brother and sister from a 4KIDS family enjoy time together. 4KIDS is committed to helping kids thrive
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/