FLORIDA UNITED METHODIST CHILDREN'S HOME ANNOUNCES PLAN TO BUILD NEW YOUTH RANCH
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – The Florida United Methodist Children's Home today unveiled the conceptual design for a new youth ranch in Madison to state senators and representatives, Madison County government leaders, Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins, religious leaders, Children’s Home Board of Trustees, and interested citizens.
In November 2010, a group of members from First United Methodist Church in Madison joined together, inviting leadership from the Children's Home, to discuss the possibility of expanding the Children's Home by developing a second campus in Madison. It was determined that a youth ranch would be the best option for the first expansion ever of The Florida United Methodist Children's Home in its 104 years of operation.
The ranch will be a replication of the Enterprise campus in every respect that makes sense for its rural setting. As a ranch, there will be opportunities to use different kinds of therapy, including equine-assisted psychotherapy.
"In Madison, 120 acres of land has already been donated to the project, as well as full funding for one children's home," said Mike Galloway, President and CEO of The Florida United Methodist Children's Home. "Our estimated completion date and our groundbreaking will be determined by our fundraising efforts, but we hope to have the first phase of our campus completed by 2014."
The first phase will include two homes for children, along with an administration building, chapel, horse stable, and maintenance building, in addition to a home for the campus director. The amount of dollars raised will dictate how quickly we can move to later phases of the project, which include more residential homes for children, a learning center, daycare, counseling offices, ball fields, house parent retreat, dining hall, gym, vocational tech center, commissary, volunteer housing and more.
The campus is planned to eventually serve 100 children ages 8-17 in the residential program and provide foster care services to Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor counties. The first phase of construction will serve up to 24 children in residential housing.
Each residential home will house up to 12 children, and have two sets of house parents who trade off every other week. No more than two children will share a room. The children will eat in their homes "family" style, share in chores, and will be responsible for their own rooms. Staff will attempt to create a family-like atmosphere while providing therapeutic opportunities to resolve any issues the children may bring with them. Children will be welcomed from all across the state, but primarily from the North Florida region. We will also receive children from church, community and state referrals.
"We are so happy to partner with Florida United Methodist Children's Home in this endeavor. Our faith-based organizations across the state are an integral part of our work to keep children safe," said Secretary Wilkins. "The needs of the families and children across Florida are too great for any one agency. We must continue to work together to meet the critical needs of Florida's children."
Children come to The Florida United Methodist Children's Home because of sexual abuse, other physical abuse, abandonment or because of family breakdown due to divorce, drug abuse, illness, death of a parent or other traumatic issues being experienced by the child. There may be neglect or conflicts that have made impossible a normal family life. A majority of referrals come from pastors, family, schools, courts or other state placing agencies. Each child is evaluated to see if the program of the home can be of help.
The length of stay for a resident varies from a few weeks to several years. Each child is an individual and the time in residence will be influenced by the complexity of the problems they and their families face and the progress they can make in dealing with those problems. The best interests of the child are always of primary concern to the program of the home.
Currently, more than 250 children are served by the Children's Home at any given time. The residential care on the Enterprise campus currently provides a variety of holistic services to a diverse group of more than 100 children and young adults every day and night. There are more than 65 foster family homes that serve approximately 125 children. During the eight years of the program's existence, the Children's Home has served more than 1,115 foster care children, including 157 adoptions.
Each year, on average, about 65 percent to 70 percent of funding comes from private sources. Strong church support enables the program to maintain its ministry as a Christian outreach of our commitment to children.
For more information, visit www.allchildrenfirst.org.