In Florida there are 27,000 youths who age out of foster care without the emotional and financial support necessary to succeed. This number has steadily risen over the past decade. Nearly 40% have been homeless or couch surfed, nearly 60% of young men had been convicted of a crime, and only 38% were employed. 50% of all youth who aged out were involved in substance abuse, and 17% of the females were pregnant.
Nearly 25% of youth aging out did not have a high school diploma or GED, and a mere 6% had completed a two or four-year college degree. Studies have shown that 70% of all youth in foster care have no desire to attend college.
Source: 2014 Fostering Connections
…And when you know better, do better.
As Maya Angelou put it, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” What happens to children in the system who aren’t ever exposed to “better”? Can they break the cycle of generational dysfunction if they are in a situation where the people, who are suppose to love and protect them the most, emotionally and physically abuse them? Too often some of our deepest personal problems are rooted in something we can’t control. Family traits are often passed down from parents to children and the cycle can continue for generations. While there is never an excuse for child abuse, it’s important to “know better” and understand that the parents who abuse their children were likely victims of child abuse themselves.
Our vision at Genesis Hopeful Haven is that each young person gets exposed to a new and better experience. It will be mandatory for them to participate in all the programs we provide in order to meet each individual’s needs. We will have extensive therapy, express what true love looks like, and introduce them to new skills they may not have known were within them. For example, learning to play instruments, being involved with sports teams, and art classes. We’ll teach yoga and kickboxing classes, gardening programs, and life-skills workshops. Learning topics like saving, cooking, cleaning, and different career options. We believe that knowledge is power, so each child will receive intensive one-on-one tutoring. In short, we’ll do everything possible to help these kids not only in their current situation but also in achieving successful futures! Let’s all serve as ambassadors for these homeless youth, fighting to improve their lives and to give them their best chance at a new beginning.
Dante’s eyes drop tears onto his pillow every night and open every morning to the same dreadful and hopeless situation. It started with his parents. His abusive father had inflicted wound upon wound, leaving scars that lingered painfully after he disappeared for good. His mother was overwhelmed with raising a child alone and had a mountain of debt. It wasn’t long before she turned to drugs, becoming neglectful and cold towards her son. Dante was taken from her. At his grandma’s house, he could feel the weight of his existence bearing down on her frail and tired body growing weak until she was no longer able to appropriately care for him. Thus, he was pushed to his aunt’s house where he sought sleep but only found fearful nights. He was haunted mercilessly by his uncle who stood over his bed, touching him. Dante’s tears rain puddles that never seemed to dry. No one cared about his needs or his thoughts, where he went or what he did. He was all alone, until Dante reached out to his school social worker, hoping that someone would just save him from his pain and rescue him from this place called “home.”
According to the Florida Department of Children services, as of June 30, 2015, there were 22,000 children reported as being neglected or abused. So many young boys like Dante are waking up to the realization that they can no longer survive in their current living conditions. Many have spiraled downhill as they pass from house to house, only finding increasing danger, fear, anxiety and pain at every turn. Youth like Dante need healing, security and support in a place that they can truly call “home.” Not “home” like the abusive parents’ house. Not “home” like the grandparent who can no longer give him the attention and support that a child needs. And not “home” like the terrifying aunt’s house. Homes are meant to offer a family support system, a safe environment, opportunity for growth, and hope for a bright future. “Home” is a hopeful haven.
Genesis Hopeful Haven strives to provide true homes for struggling youth in the Miami Dade County. We welcome boys age 6-12 in our Foster Home. There are many factors that make Hopeful Haven unique. It begins with offering a true home – a family style home – with a close-knit support system, a secure living space, and the opportunity for endless growth toward a successful future. Florida is in need of more safe havens for children who are hurting just like Dante. Let’s be a voice for the voiceless and stand up for kids in need.