The mission of Friends of Children of Brevard is to improve the lives of the abused, abandoned and neglected children of Brevard County and to support their advocates, the Guardian Ad Litem Program. As a nonprofit 501 C3 organization, Friends of Children of Brevard supports children who have been removed from their home due to no fault of their own.
Often when children are placed in foster care, they leave their current residence unexpectedly and are not able to take many personal items with them. Our organization provides tangible items to the children and their interim caregivers that are not normally provided by government agencies. Items often provided consist of: clothing, shoes, beds, bikes, diapers, school supplies, luggage, holiday gifts, as well as financial contributions for opportunities such as summer camps, swimming lessons and access to other normal childhood activities.
Friends of Children of Brevard fills in gaps for items that the Florida Department of Children and Families does not offer, such as bunk beds for a grandmother who acquires temporary custody of her grandchildren after the children’s drug-addicted mother has been arrested.
Guardian ad Litem
In addition to our direct support of abused children, Friends supports the Guardian ad Litem Program. This important program provides volunteer advocates for abused children. These volunteers are assigned by the court and offer Judges the critical information they need by making independent recommendations. Guardian ad Litem volunteers focus on the needs of each child and continue to advocate on behalf of the child until he or she is placed in a loving permanent home. Research shows children paired with a volunteer are much less likely to languish in long-term foster care, are moved less frequently and are more likely to be placed with their siblings.
Once in the foster care system, foster children often face additional moves from one placement to another, often causing children to have difficulty in school and need extra support. Transportation is usually an issue for our children, which is it is best to send tutors to the children at their placements or neighborhoods. Alternatively, a gas card could be provided to the foster parents to offset transportation costs. Although some schools do provide tutoring, students who are bus riders or must walk home with siblings would not be able to take advantage of in-school programs.
Facts About Tutoring
The following facts support the need for after school tutoring:
- Children in foster care are more likely to change schools during the school year, be in special education classes, or fail to receive passing grades over their peers.
- High school dropout rates are three times higher for foster youth than other low-income children.
- The high school graduation rate is approximately 50% for foster children.
- Over 40% of school-aged children in foster care have educational difficulties.
- Foster children have a 2.5% graduation rate from a 4-year college compared with 24% of the general population.
Giving a Special Day
Our most recent project is the Birthday Gift Club. Many of our children have never had a birthday party. We help celebrate each child’s birthday by giving their Volunteer Child Advocate a $25.00 gift card for the child. They could buy a gift, take the child shopping, buy a cake, take the child out for a meal, or to the movies. Many of the Advocates purchase gifts themselves out of their own funds, but more than half request the birthday club gift cards. Currently the expenses for the birthday club are projected at about $10,000 per year, but it is money well spent to give a child a sense of belonging and importance when all they have known is suffering and neglect.
One of our biggest events of the year is the Holiday Project. This is a huge undertaking by our board and volunteers to provide up to 4 gifts for each child in care. In 2019 we were at 3,000 gifts, the bulk of which came from the community. Where there is a shortfall in gifts, Friends provides funding in order that the children’s wish list can be completed as much as possible.