Since our founding in 1908, the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home has sought to more faithfully adapt to the ever-changing needs of children and families, and we take seriously our call to provide them with an environment of safety, healing, and transformation. Our Residential Care program provides a group home environment for children ages 6-17 years old. From therapeutic and educational services to opportunities for recreation involvement with Spiritual Life activities, this program provides children with the opportunity to be a part of a stable and loving home environment. The Madison Youth Ranch, our northern campus, not only mirrors the services provided at our Enterprise campus, but also boasts the ability to do equine-assisted psychotherapy on property. Our two therapy horses, Sugar and Shiloh, provide a powerful therapeutic tool in helping our children process through the trauma they have experienced. The Youth Ranch has also recently developed a gardening program, not only teaching the children where their food comes from but also allowing them to prepare and cook some of the food they eat.
We continue our preparation for the upcoming regulatory transition ushered in by the Families First Preservation Services Acts (FFPSA). While this Act will bring some changes when fully implemented, I am confident that our compliance will not only allow us to continue functioning at a high level, but also to expand the ways in which we seek to serve the need across the state.
In addition to Residential Care, we provide a variety of services to better assist the children and youth under our care. Our Independent Living program seeks to walk young adults, ages 18-26, through the transition from residential services to moving out on their own. This begins with trainings and vocational programming, and moves through transitional housing and scholarships for those who need it. Our Foster Care Services trains and licenses families to provide much needed foster homes in Volusia, Flagler, Broward, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough Counties. Circle of Friends Services is another component of our ministry in ten counties along the I-4 corridor, providing therapeutic services to children and families following a traumatic event. This has allowed us to offer outpatient services to those in need. Additionally, we have emergency shelters in both
Enterprise and West Palm Beach, providing respite care immediately following a child’s removal from their home.
The Children’s Home has also been working hard to try and better serve churches in the work they are doing with children and families in their own contexts. This includes providing trainings and other resources in the field of child welfare, along with breakout sessions during our annual Day on Campus event. Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can better empower your church’s work with children and families.
The COVID-19 pandemic took quite a toll on the Children’s Home, as it did for many churches, businesses, and organizations. In March of last year, we halted all non-essential off-campus trips, moved to a remote working environment for non-essential staff, and cancelled existing events. In addition to incorporating the standard safety protocols for all campuses, we also paused planned renovations and our volunteer program, the latter of the two normally accounting for nearly 20,000 hours of service annually. Like it did with churches across the Conference, the pandemic certainly affected our finances as well. Church giving, one of our largest sources of funding, dropped over 18% last year, with every Fifth Sunday Offering in 2020 occurring after the onset of the pandemic. Our team was deliberate
in making the necessary adjustments to our budget, allowing us to maintain fiscal responsibility while ensuring the mission of your Children’s Home continued unhindered.
In the midst of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we found creative ways to engage the children. From Rev. Madeline Luzinski, our Director of Pastoral Care: “we have held worship services outside in our grassy fields, delighting in the beauty of God’s good creation. We acted out the story of Jesus’s birth and sang ‘Silent Night’ under the sheltering branches of one of the oldest oak trees on campus. We have gathered in our Gymnatorium so we could social distance while together and baptized youth who wanted a new life and to be part of God’s family.” Whether it is during a natural disaster, catastrophic event, or global pandemic, you can be proud of the unceasing work your Children’s Home is doing to empower children and families to experience the transforming love of Christ.
To learn more about The Florida United Methodist Children's Home, click here