Keeping Families on the Right Track
Children's Home Society of Florida, Inc.
Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS) is one of Florida’s oldest private not-for-profit organizations providing services to children and families. Since CHS was established in 1902 to find families for orphans, the needs of children and families have grown and evolved. Since 1972, services have expanded to meet the new challenges faced by children and families every day. CHS delivers a unique spectrum of social services designed to protect children at risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation, and/or abandonment; to strengthen and stabilize families; to help families break the cycle of abuse and neglect; and to find safe, loving homes for children. The array of services offered by CHS locally includes family and individual counseling, child abuse prevention and intervention services, home-based services, Community Partnership School at CA Weis Elementary (Weis), help for pregnant teens and first-time mothers, homeless and at-risk-youth programs, adoption and foster care services, mentoring programs, family preservation, and more.
CHS is a core partner of the Community Partnership School at Weis. A Community Partner School brings together high-quality academics, health care, counseling, support, mentoring and more at the school where students and their families are comfortable. CHS is seeking IMPACT 100 funds to create a paved walking track on the grounds of Weis that will serve as an addition to the existing playground. Weis is in a local area with the highest crime rate, least economically developed neighborhoods and the highest risk for social concerns such as child welfare and juvenile justice referrals. The median household income of the Weis population is around $22,179, and 32% of the households live in poverty. Many families in the area served by Weis are faced with limited transportation, limited economic opportunities and multi-generational system dependence. These families are the target population to be served by the track. The track will be a fully functional walking track complete with signs encouraging additional movement/exercise and a covered seating area. Construction will consist of grading the land, laying asphalt, creating a small covered shelter, fencing, and signage. The track will serve multiple purposes by being available to children during recess as well as creating a unique space to host Weis' after school extended hours and summer activities for children and parents.
Families in the Weis community lack safe play places for their families except for the Weis playground. The playground and future track will serve as safe family activity spaces that not only engage the families in outdoor activities, but also serve to connect the families to the hub of services through the Community Partnership School at Weis. The track will create opportunities for children and their families to spend positive time together at little to no cost. The goal is to encourage old and young alike, using the school grounds regularly to connect with their families and community members. Ownership and usage of the community track will create trust with the school which will encourage families to connect with the community school model and begin to utilize the school as a hub for all service needs including physical activity, health services, adult education, behavioral health and social service coordination. Providing safe recreation allows connection to the school, increased solutions to health and social challenges as well as pride in a community that has been in crisis for many years. When needs are met within a family system, the result is increased family connection, positive social interaction, positive well-being and academic achievement. The track will serve the nearly 550 students at the school, their immediate and extended families, and all community residents in the area.