A World For Children (“AWFC”) is partnering with members of the community to “bridge the gap” for the children that we serve. AWFC’s motto is “changing the world…one child at a time” and we fully believe that we are doing that through the “Bridging the Gap” Program. When children enter our care, they come from the worst possible circumstances. They have been neglected and abused by the people that they should have been able to count on to protect them—their parents. When they enter our doors, they are bruised, broken, and torn. It is our job, along with the aid of our wonderful foster parents and community donors, to put the pieces back together. Our responsibility is to ensure that these children do not experience the feeling of being “less than” or “left out.” They do not have to be the adults and parents of their households anymore. They can, instead, just enjoy being a kid and all the magic that comes with that.
Children come into our world with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the scars of abuse. So many times they are removed from school or during the middle of the night. They have no tangible possessions. In order to just survive the next day, there are certain items the children simply must have. The cost of immediate minimum needs are not covered. To help “jump start” providing for their immediate needs, the foster family is given $150 per child upon placement. These funds allow the foster parent to go out that night and buy the kids clothes for school the next day, pajamas for that night, a toothbrush, a car seat, diapers, etc.
Most of the children we serve have never been out of the town in which they were born, much less stayed at a hotel or visited an amusement park. In an effort to expose our children to a fun-filled summer, we have a Summer Adventure at Fiesta Texas. Siblings that were separated for placement can come back together and enjoy the day with one another. Additionally, our kids get to have many first time experiences – a first trip outside their town, a first trip to a hotel, with a swimming pool. Some of them have never even had as simple of an experience as swimming in a pool. Every year, we are amazed at the stories we are told about the children’s reaction to this event. They have been through so much and deserve to cast their “adult-size” worries aside and just be a child for a day.
BACK TO SCHOOL
Statistics show that foster children are, on average, two grade levels behind in school. This is for a variety of reasons. They face instability with their biological families, they are moved from home to home when placed in the system, and they have no sense of self-worth or esteem. No one has ever given the encouragement and support they need to succeed. A World For Children is working with the parents to give these children hope and self-worth. Not only will they need the mental and emotional support provided by foster parents, they also do not need to have to worry about having used school supplies or clothes that other kids will make fun of. They need to be able to start the scool year with a fresh start – a new pair of shoes, a first day outfit, and a binder that doesn’t have someone else’s name scratched out on it. At the beginning of each year, we like to give them a little extra boost – $100 toward back-to-school clothes costs and $50 toward back-to-school supplies.
Many of our children have not only never had a Merry Christmas, they have faced some of their greatest trauma at Christmas time. Children should be able to experience the magic of Christmas and not think of it as a terrifying time of year. In partnership with our donors, we work to provide these children with what may be their first Christmas experience ever. Not only is each child invited to a Christmas party with children from their region, they are each given at least one $50 gift based on a personal wish list they provide to their case manager, as well as a $50 Wal-Mart gift card provided by AWFC. We also have themed parties in each of our offices, complete with a meal and a visit from Santa. Christmas costs $150 per child.
Each year, A World for Children hosts a summer camp geared towards engaging, inspiring, and motivating our foster care youth. Our teens experience four days of a jam packed schedule including a career fair, interactive games designed to educate youth on financial responsibilities, and many other activities that are both informational and fun.