Local Group gets grant to help Foster Kids05/11/07 Mitch E.Perry
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According to the Associated Press, approximately 20,000 teenagers who turn 18 each year "age out" of the foster care system with neither an adoptive nor a blood-relation family to support them. Scores of state and local initiatives are being launched to assist them. There has been talk that their plight may be addressed by the new Democratic majority in Congress.
But until then, local agencies and faith based groups are the ones who have to pick up the slack.
Pastor Tom Atchison is the President of New Beginnings of Tampa. His faith based organization provides for long and short term emergency shelter for those which drug and/or alcoholic problems, or people with any addictions. (roll tape#1 o.q.”all kind of blends into one”) But it was only recently that he started to think about helping kids transition out of Foster Care.
Atchison said there was a young family who became quite active in his church. There only blood relative was their uncle, who then died. Pastor Atchison said this group then housed the kids in a property they already were renting. This spurred him to think of others his group could help (roll tape#2 o.q.” no place to go”)
That led Atchison to apply for a federal grant – which he received. That grant, worth
$347,000, will help construct an 11 bed facility on their existing property in the University Mall area.
Studies by experts in the field have shown troubling figures for those who age out of foster care. Fewer than half complete high school – many have no jobs, and no home. Their rates of arrests, health problems and welfare dependancy are far higher than for contemporaries with families of their own.
Tom Atchison from New Beginnings of Tampa says his goal is to reverse that trend, at least with 11 kids (roll tape #3 o.q. “managing money”)New Beginnings is looking for lots of help. Those who can help with construction, and after construction, they’ll need mentors for the Foster Children making the transition to the outside world. IF you’re interested in helping out, you call Pastor Tom Atchison. New Beginnings is a division of the New Life Pentecostal Church of God . They’re at 813-971-6961.