Renewed partnership with Goodwill to help caregivers and teens

SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – When children enter the foster care system, extended family or non-relatives will take responsibility for a child or children while they are not able to live with a parent or parents. In many cases, additional resources are needed to make children comfortable and feel at home in their new residence.

Thanks to a partnership of Goodwill Manasota and the Children’s Guardian Fund, items such as clothing, furniture, bedding, housewares and other necessities will be made available for children who are entering the state care system. Additionally, Goodwill will provide career services through its Job Connection program for teens in the care system looking for part-time employment, a biological parent who will need to have a job in order to have the child returned to their custody, or even the new caregiver who may need to return to work in order to deal with the added expenses related to housing, feeding and clothing one or more children.

Several years ago, Goodwill and the Children’s Guardian Fund partnered to help improve the prospects for young people aging out of the foster care system; this new venture cements the relationship and spirit of cooperation between the two organizations.

“Given our previous work together and our ability to provide resources needed for those involved with the foster care system, it made sense for us to make these available to the Children’s Guardian Fund,” said Margie Genter, vice president of mission services for Goodwill. “Whether clothing, furniture or career services – these are all readily available through Goodwill and we’re pleased to support those who have opened their homes to children at a time of need as well as parents trying to get their lives back on track.”

The reinvigoration of the connection between the nonprofits was facilitated by a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer and Children’s Guardian Fund board member, Jim Flora, who is also an ongoing volunteer for Goodwill.  Additionally, Genter and Children’s Guardian Fund executive director Svetlana Ivashchenko already knew each other and were eager to get the collaborative momentum moving again.

“Partnering with Goodwill means being able to direct our needy families to the wealth of resources available through this great organization and, ultimately, achieving better outcomes for our local children who have suffered abuse, neglect and abandonment,” said Ivashchenko.

Goodwill will also assist in spreading the word about the need for volunteers to become Guardian Ad Litem advocates, trained and certified community volunteers appointed by judges to speak up for abused or neglected children in court. Currently, there are approximately 1,200 children in the Guardian Ad Litem Program in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties; over 100 – about half of whom are age 5 or younger while 90% are 12 or younger – are awaiting a volunteer to serve as their advocate. The cases of children who do not have a Guardian Ad Litem stay open longer; volunteers are critical to ensuring the best possible outcome for these children.

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