Children’s Home Society announces $100K Community Challenge

VERO BEACH – Marta Schneider, Chairman of Children’s Home Society Indian River County Advisory Board, recently announced the receipt of two $50,000 challenge gifts from anonymous donors for the 2011 Annual Fund campaign. For every dollar donated from the Indian River County community from now through June 30, the amount will be matched – effectively doubling all donations up to $100,000. Children’s Home Society’s (CHS) vision is to break the cycle of child abuse through prevention and intervention programs, foster care, adoptions and help for runaway and troubled youth.

“Many of the CHS’s highly effective programs depend upon the support of individual donors, business sponsorships, civic groups, faith-based organizations and foundations,” explained Schneider. “CHS serves a very unique population and we hope that through this challenge gift we can raise awareness for these programs and open up people’s hearts for our community’s most vulnerable children and young adults.”

The Transitional Living Program is one such program that provides young adults, ages 18-23, with a continuum of care after they age out of the foster care system with financial assistance, job training and mentoring to prevent homelessness and break the cycle of abuse and neglect that have been part of their lives. The Youth Transition Center, located on the Vero Beach Campus is a residential component of this program.

The transition from foster care to adulthood is challenging for many youth. This transition may be even more difficult if one is parenting. Adolescents in foster care are more likely to become parents in their teen years and children born to teen parents are more likely to end up in foster care or have multiple caretakers throughout their childhood.

To address this issue, CHS is hoping to fund the launch of the “Baby Think It Over’ Program in Indian River County within the next year. With a proven track record serving St. Lucie County teens, 9th -12th grades, for over 10 years, the abstinence-based curriculum teaches youth about the emotional, financial and social consequences of parenting. Students are provided with a fictional life situation and must find a job, a house, and create a monthly household budget including baby’s expenses and daycare. The group reviews and discusses the various scenario budgets. 

Several teens take home an infant simulator for up to 48 hours, which requires a lot of time and attention just like a real baby and records the amount of attention and intervention received from the students. Afterwards students receive a reading of their interaction and handling of the baby.  The program is intended to teach how parenting responsibilities impact one’s life profoundly and should only be taken on by someone prepared for that responsibility. Teens also learn about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The Children’s Home Society of Florida Treasure Coast Division, which is one of 14 divisions in Florida, serves more than 9,000 children and their families each year in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties. Children’s Home Society is not a government agency and must rely on the support of individuals, civic groups, foundations and businesses for the funds to give children and young adults the opportunity to be safe, healthy and prepared for life.

For more information, visit www.chsfl.org or call 772-344-4020.

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