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Place of Hope: Local organization helping area neglected, abused, trafficked youth succeed

Posted at 11:32 PM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 23:32:55-04

 PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Children and teens in our area are gearing up for the start of a brand new school year.
 
But, for children who have been abused, neglected or even trafficked, staying focused on the school year can be challenging.
 
Organizations such as Place of Hope step in to help those children in our community stay on track, gain confidence and succeed.
 
Place of Hope is a state-licensed children’s organization that, among many community services, provides both long term and short term foster care to children, and safety for victims of sex trafficking, abuse, and neglect.
 
Right now, the organization is putting together back to school supplies for the youth it serves, including dozens of school-aged children and teens. 
 
“They actually really enjoy the structure and going to school and learning and feeling accomplished,” said Jamie Bond, Place of Hope Director of Development and Advancement for the Treasure Coast. “It’s exciting for them to flourish and thrive and to be able to go to school because a lot of our kids, they’re really operating on survival mode.”
 
Place of Hope aims to give a sense of stability, consistency, and safety for the youth who have been dealt a tough hand.
 
“So many of them are used to 'where am I going to lay my head tonight? Is there going to be enough food? Am I going to go see my mom and dad? When is that going to happen?' So, school isn’t necessarily the first thing on their mind.”
 
The numbers, according to Bond, are concerning. She says there is a shortage of foster families in our area.
 
In Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, Bond says nearly 2600 children or teens are under DCF supervision, meaning there is some form of an ongoing investigation.
 
Of those, nearly 1700 are completely removed from their guardian or parents’ home, and in foster homes, group homes or shelters.
 
Here is a further break down on the Treasure Coast, according to Bond:
 
In St. Lucie County, 504 children who have suffered from child abuse or neglect are under supervision by the Department of Children and Families. 372 of those have been removed from their homes completely and placed into out of home foster care. St. Lucie County has just 129 "beds" available in foster homes.
 
In Indian River County, 188 children have suffered from child abuse or neglect are under supervision by the Department of Children and Families. Of those children, 149 have been removed from their homes completely and placed into out of home foster care. Indian River County has just 30 "beds" available in foster homes.
 
In Martin County, 180 children who have suffered from child abuse or neglect are under supervision by the Department of Children and Families. Of those children, 133 have been removed from their homes completely and placed into out of home foster care. Martin County only has 33 "beds" available in foster homes.
 
Hundreds of children, bond says, are at risk of having to be transferred out of their home county, and leave their schools and friends, or be placed in group homes or shelters because of the shortage of foster families.
 
“There’s a huge need for more foster parents. There’s a huge need for community involvement,”
 
As the school year approaches, Bond hopes people will use this time to remember to keep helping these children, whether it’s through donating money, supplies, or even just a family dinner.
 
“Especially the first few weeks of school it definitely helps. Just one less thing you have to worry about.”