Friends of Foster Children
Forever offers rare support
Judy mentoring one of our foster children
Foster children face some of the greatest challenges in our community. On any given day there are over 300 foster children in Collier County. They have been removed from their homes due to their parent’s abuse, neglect, addiction, mental health, or domestic violence.
One local nonprofit is trying the break the cycle through education. Friends of Foster Children Forever is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides educational and enrichment activities to enable foster children to reach their full potential.
When a child is removed from their home, they are placed with a family member whenever possible. If this is not an option, they are placed in a foster home or in group housing. Sadly, there are not enough foster homes in Collier County to accommodate the need. When a child is moved, they most often must go to a new school leaving behind siblings and friends. Not surprisingly, this can lead to isolation and depression. Statistically each time a child is moved, they fall behind in school an average of six months which compounds the problem. Friends of Foster Children Forever works to ensure that each foster child has the opportunity to have a happy childhood.
For newborn children until the age of five, the organization connects them to early learning centers to prepare them for kindergarten. Children ages five and up are matched with tutors to help each child excel in and out of the classroom through the Academic Mentoring Program.
Lucy at FSW | Photo by Louis Venne
“Nationally, only 50 percent of foster children graduate high school,” said Ann Hughes, executive director of Friends of Foster Children Forever. Hughes continued, “this past June, an astounding 78 percent of foster children in Collier County Public Schools graduated high school. A remarkable 100 percent of foster children in our Academic Mentoring Program graduated and have now gone on to college.”
Friends of Foster Children Forever awards two annual scholarships. The scholarships assist those who are or were in foster care to obtain a four-year or two-year degree or a certificate at a technical school anywhere in the country.
Friends of Foster Children Forever not only focuses on what goes on inside the classroom but outside of it as well. They pay for enrichment activities such as music and art lessons, dance classes, and sports programs, along with winter and summer camps. Friends of Foster Children Forever value the importance that enrichment activities can have on foster children as they offer much-needed stability, as well as lifelong friendships.
What sets Friends of Foster Children Forever apart from other organizations is those foster children are not sent on their own once they turn 18-years-old. Through their Thriving After Care, Friends of Foster Children Forever provides those who “aged out” of the foster system with support on how to transition into adulthood.
Classes are being developed to provide a solid foundation for the older foster children including offering classes and mentors to assist with basic cooking, finance, creating resumes, going on job interviews, finding housing, understanding credit scores, and setting up budgets.
Friends of Foster Children Forever will do all it takes to ensure that foster children reach their full potential, and the children’s successes have shown these programs work and make a true impact on each child. With Friends of Foster Children Forever, foster children will always have a home.