Nationally, 23,000 children will “age out” of foster care each year. Twenty percent of those children will instantly become homeless. Only one in two of these children will have gainful employment by age 24. Seven in 10 of the females who age out will be pregnant before age 21. Less than 3% of foster children who have aged out will graduate from college.
On any given day, there are over 300 children in the foster care system in Collier County. Friends of Foster Children Forever, an independently funded non-profit, seeks to change the statistical narrative of foster children in Collier County.
The 501c3 organization’s goal is to connect foster children between the ages of two months to five years with early education centers and provide children ages five to 18 with professional tutors to support the child’s academic needs during or afterschool. They also pay for the foster children’s summer and winter camps and enrichment activities such as dance classes, gymnastics, music lessons and sports programs. Just recently, they embarked upon an annual scholarship program for foster children in Collier County and awarded three students with scholarships to pursue their dreams in higher education. Through a variety of strategic programs, Friends of Foster Children Forever supports the “whole” child’s wellbeing from birth through college graduation.
Friends of Foster Children Forever does not accept any government funding and relies completely on donations. To help a foster child, below are some specific needs:
- $ 50 for a new pair of sneakers
- $ 100 allows a child to play a sport for the first time.
- $ 250 for a three-month supply of diapers for a baby
- $ 500 pays for tutoring a child for six months.
Friends of Foster Children Forever is currently seeking support for its annual Back to School event taking place at the end of July. Over 500 children will be provided with uniforms or clothing stipends, tennis shoes, and backpacks filled with school supplies. Help ensure that foster children have the supplies they need before the start of the new school year by visiting https://a.co/bfaCbU3 and making a purchase.
For those feeling particularly inspired, consider becoming a foster parent. There is a great need for foster families in the Greater Naples area. Becoming a foster parent is one of the most rewarding experiences for a family. If you are ready for the commitment, you must complete a 10-week Pre-Service Parenting Program (once a week, 3 hours each class) called PRIDE. To find out more visit the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida website at www.childnetswfl.org.
“The community in southwest Florida is dedicated to helping foster children succeed,” said Executive Director, Ann Hughes. “With their assistance and support we are able to see true progress academically, socially and emotionally.“
To learn how to support foster children call 239-262-1808 or visit www.FriendsofFosterChildren.net