Through a variety of behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and child welfare services, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida is a pillar of hope for youth in need.
Over the past three years, our partnership with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida has taught us so much. Not only did we learn about the serious need for foster families in Central Florida but also about the many services that Devereux offers to our community.
Did you know…
- Each year, there are 18,000 to 20,000 children in Florida who are part of the foster care system. Drug abuse is the number one reason for children entering state care, and this trend has grown significantly over the past few years in Florida as a result of opioid-specific cases.
- Central Florida is one of the highest ranked cities in the country for human trafficking and there is not one child, regardless of age, race of social status, who is protected. Some signs of human trafficking in youth include:
- Repeated runaways
- Having extra money or unexplainable access to new possessions
- Frequent school absences and/or a sudden change in academic performance
- Questionable friends or the presence of a controlling friend/boyfriend
- Fearful, submissive, depressed or anxious behavior
- Withdrawn or lack of interest in preferred activities
- Gang involvement
If you suspect a child or teen is a victim, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE. If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or suspect an adult is a victim of human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-800-373-7888.
- Utilizing the skills of master’s level therapists, the Devereux Family Counseling Center provides individual, family and group therapy for youth and families. Specialized trauma-informed therapeutic services cover a range of issues, including depression, anxiety, hyperactivity/inattention, relationships, anger management, behavior problems, self-esteem, sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation.
- Devereux partners with Orange County Public Schools to provide therapeutic support to over 60 schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels through a contract with SEDNET, a multiagency network that provides support and a system of care for students with or at risk of emotional and/or behavioral challenges.
- When youth and young adults in Orange, Osceola or Seminole counties are experiencing a crisis related to mental health needs, substance abuse issues or a trauma-related event, mobile crisis services can be accessed by calling 2-1-1 and, if determined to meet criteria, a mental health professional arrives onsite within an hour to provide immediate crisis intervention and stabilization. Since its conception in late 2015, Orange County’s Mobile Crisis Response Team has been dispatched over 1,145 times and has a stabilization rate of 91 percent, with a 100 percent satisfaction rate. This program is made available in partnership with Orange County Government, Devereux Florida, Heart of Florida United Way 211 and Central Florida Cares.
A Family for Every Child
The decision to become a foster parent is one that takes careful consideration but that is also extremely rewarding. For children and teens without a safe, nurturing environment to turn to, the future can seem dark and uncertain. By opening your home, and your heart, you are giving kids in need a chance at fulfilling their potential and enjoying a life of success.
There is a great need for foster parents here in Central Florida, and far too many families miss the opportunity to foster because of misconceptions. Foster parents are just as unique and diverse as the youth in their care – single, married or living in a committed relationship with someone. Families of all types can make a difference in the lives of children in need.
“They are my family once they come into my home,” says Natividad, a Devereux foster mom. “We make them feel welcome by listening to them to ensure they know they are an important part of our family, which helps with the transition.”
For Shakira and her husband, ??, providing structure and a sense of safety for the children in the foster system has strengthened their connection. Not only have they been able to guide these children through some of the toughest times of their young lives but they have seen their eyes light up during brand new experiences, some as small as going for ice cream.
“Our first year of fostering had a lot of ups and downs, though we enjoyed our first year tremendously,” Shakira says. “We have grown stronger and closer as a couple and have truly learned unconditional love. We were surprised by how deep and pure love can be, especially when children are here only a short time.”
Devereux foster parents receive ongoing support from a variety of resources to prevent and reduce foster parent stress and family crisis, including ongoing training and assistance. Additionally, Devereux’s foster parents have found a support system in each other. Natividad and Shakira met through their shared experience, and now they’re best friends who can count on each other every step of the way.
For more information about becoming a Devereux Florida foster parent, visit www.DevereuxFL.org or email FLFosterCare@devereux.org.
Camp Holiday Cheer!
This holiday season, the Lifestyle Magazine team is working hand in hand with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida to create a holiday wonderland for foster children and the families who are providing them a safe, loving home. We invite the community to join us in making this an extra special holiday party and giving these families memories that will last a lifetime.
How You Can Help:
- Become a Camp Holiday Cheer sponsor.
- Make a donation for necessary supplies or food and beverage items.
- Adopt a foster family for Christmas.
Contact Catie Moore for more information about how you can positively affect local foster children during the holidays.