Children’s Home opens 24-hour emergency shelter



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Children’s Home opens 24-hour emergency shelter

Jan. 13, 2008  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011 
tparham@flumc.org  Orlando {0784}

An e-Review Feature
By Steven Skelley**

The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home has partnered with the Community Partnership for Children to open an emergency shelter for children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, abandonment or family breakdown.

Ron Zychowski, chief executive officer of Community Partnership for Children, and Jennifer Raby, coordinator of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home Emergency Shelter Care, cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for the new shelter. Photo courtesy of Florida United Methodist Children’s Home. Photo #08-0729.

It’s the first of its kind in the area.
 
The Chatlos-Quillian cottage on the Children’s Home camps was previously used as a residential care facility, but has been rededicated for emergency shelter care placement for children and youth ages 6 to 17.

Children who have no other place to go enter the shelter immediately after entering care with the Department of Children and Families or when removed from their current placement, no matter the time of day or night.

The cottage officially opened as the emergency shelter last July. It can accommodate 10 children who need immediate placement and provides specialized educational, therapeutic, clinical, recreational and spiritual services. The goal is for professional staff to provide a stable environment for children to be evaluated and appropriately placed in long-term care.

Community Partnership for Children provides temporary housing for children who must be removed from their homes while working to place them in safe, long-term care, whether through foster care or adoption. It currently cares for 1,234 children, but that number changes daily according to Jo Lynn Deal, chief development officer for the organization.

Statistics provided by the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home from 2006 show the Children’s Home served 135 children in residential care and 145 in foster care. More than 20 children were adopted.

Mike Galloway, president and chief executive officer of the Children’s Home, says he is excited about adding this program to the home’s array of services.

“While we have historically focused on long-term care for children during our 99 years of service, we have adapted as the needs of children have changed,” he said. “Children in crisis need, and deserve, the best we can give them as we help them cope with the traumatic circumstances that bring them to us.”

Ron Zychowski, Community Partnership for Children’s chief executive officer, says he is thankful for everyone who has worked to make “good things happen for children.” He says the partnership helps everyone better meet the needs of children during a challenging time in their lives.

“The new children’s shelter will enable us to offer a safe and loving environment for children removed from their homes while we prepare a comprehensive plan of care for them,” he said.

According to Miranda Levy, public relations coordinator for the Children’s Home, removing a child during a time of crisis causes major decreases in that child’s self-esteem and self-worth, as well as “behavioral management difficulties due to grief and loss, feeling of worthlessness, feelings of hopelessness for the future, fears of abandonment, and difficulty trusting others.”

She says the Children’s Home helps children cope with these challenges by providing a host of services, from a safe, structured environment in which their basic needs are met to “therapeutic support from a therapist to cope with grief/loss, behavioral analysis services for behavior management and stabilization, assessment by a licensed clinician to recommend other support or services needed and to help facilitate permanency.”

Jennifer A. Raby is coordinator of the emergency shelter. She says it is amazing how quickly the children and youth being helped by the shelter stabilize their behaviors and build relationships with the staff in the short time they are at the shelter. She says many remain in contact with the staff for support in their future placements.

Levy said past residents frequently call the shelter to keep in touch with staff and thank them for providing a safe atmosphere and support while going through such a difficult time. She says some have even said, “I want to work for Shelter when I turn 18.”

Raby says she has personally been touched by the work she does. “I have learned that before we try to help children prepare for some of the challenges they face in life, they need a solid basis and foundation, stable caregivers, structure, food, clothing, rest, hygiene, recreation, exposure to spirituality,” she said. “Children need to learn, but this evidence of bonding, trust and the planting seeds is a big part of what gives me fulfillment in this ministry.”

The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home has been providing residential care to school-aged boys and girls for nearly 100 years. It provides foster care and adoption services to Volusia, Seminole and Flagler counties. Florida United Methodist Children’s Home is one of four foster care service providers for Community Partnership for Children.

“The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home has a long tradition since its founding in 1908 as a provider serving both private-placed and state-placed children and youth,” Levy said, adding people can support the ministry with “donations of all types, not just monetary, and lots of prayers for our children.”

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*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Skelley is a freelance writer based in Beverly Hills, Fla.




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