TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the launch of Hope Florida – A Pathway to Promise that will assist youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood by providing a long-term mentor and offering a strong start to their future. Utilizing both Guardian ad Litem volunteers and Department of Elder Affairs’ Hope Heroes, youth aging out of foster care will be paired with a trained mentor, who will provide guidance, motivation and emotional support and help develop skills and resources for their future.
“While youth aging out of foster care were part of the original Hope Florida launch, we wanted to further bolster resources for these kids through a Pathway to Promise,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “This initiative provides foster youth with a supportive adult, a mentor, who will serve as a committed, caring adult as the youth transitions into adulthood, providing a lifeline for questions and advice related to living independently.”
Guardian ad Litem mentors will collaborate with Hope Navigators from the Department of Children and Families to guide youth on a pathway to a promising future. To learn more about how to become a mentor or to be paired with a mentor through Hope Florida – A Pathway to Promise, click here. Foster youth aging out of the system with immediate needs can connect with a Hope Navigator directly by calling the Hope Line (850-300-HOPE).
“Part of our mission is to provide the most vulnerable children in Florida with an adult from their community who will be a consistent, positive presence in a child’s life,” said Statewide Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Dennis W. Moore. “Implementing the Hope Florida model and providing mentorship opportunities will allow us to help even more youth succeed. I thank our First Lady for her leadership and continued support for Florida’s most vulnerable children.”
At the recent Hope Solution event hosted by First Lady Casey DeSantis, Executive Director Moore and Secretary Hall participated in a roundtable discussion with teens about the importance of mentorship for Florida’s most vulnerable children. To view the roundtable discussion, click here.
“Florida’s foster youth will be provided even more opportunities of support that encourage well-being thanks to the First Lady’s leadership,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris. “This initiative enhances the state’s efforts for foster youth by providing guidance, motivation and role modeling. Agencies working together to support our foster youth give them more opportunities to achieve success into adulthood.”
“I had two influential people who worked with me in foster care. These two people showed me it was possible to not give up on me,” said Rayla James, Guardian ad Litem CHAMPION and former foster youth. “The most crucial thing I can tell you is, do not give up on us and drop us when we turn 18. I was lucky enough to have someone in my life to whom I was introduced at 17. I am now 21, and he is still in my life. I am closer to him than I am to any of my biological family. He has been there for me and shown me true love and support unlike any of my biological family members.”
Hope Florida, created by First Lady DeSantis and implemented by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida Department of Elder Affairs, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, utilizes Hope Navigators to guide Floridians on an individualized path to prosperity and economic self-sufficiency by focusing on community collaboration between the private sector, faith-based community, non-profits and government entities to break down traditional community silos to maximize support and uncover opportunities. These Hope Navigators are essential in helping individuals identify their unique and immediate barriers to prosperity, develop long-term goals, map out a strategic plan and work to ensure all sectors of the community have a ‘seat at the table’ to be a key part of the solution. In addition, Hope Navigators help identify and organize opportunities for Floridians who wish to help their neighbors by connecting community members, including Florida seniors, with volunteer and mentorship opportunities.
Originally published at https://www.flgov.com/2023/09/20/first-lady-casey-desantis-announces-hope-florida-a-pathway-to-promise-expanding-the-hope-florida-model-to-support-youth-aging-out-of-foster-care/