More Than A Children’s Home
Posted on September 20, 2022
Through the leadership of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home was founded in 1908 as the Florida Methodist Orphanage. From those humble beginnings with just two orphaned children, the Children’s Home quickly grew.
During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, the Children’s Home grew much of its own food, tended dairy cattle, and raised a variety of animals as it cared for as many as 150 children. In 1939, the name was changed to The Florida Methodist Children’s Home.
As time progressed, the needs of the children in our care began to change. Their emotional and psychological needs required a higher level of clinical care and attention, so the traditional orphanage was no longer the desired model. During the 1950’s the first two cottages were built as a more family-style group care model was pursued. Since that time, several residential cottages have been built that allows us to group the children in accordance with their age and treatment needs.
When a youth turns 18, they age out of the group home or foster care system and are deemed adults. However, most of these youth are not prepared to be completely independent. Located on the Enterprise campus, our Independent Living program assists young adults 18-26 as they transition to adult life. This program provides them with a safe place to live and counseling to help them improve their budgeting and other life skills. While in the program, these young adults are attending college or trade school and are usually employed with a local business. Young adults in this program have transitioned into careers in law enforcement, health care, construction, the military, and many other fields.
The Children’s Home also screens, trains, and license foster parents in four counties, providing children the opportunity to transition into foster care. The foster parents are continually supported by Children’s Home staff through additional training and resources to ensure their success.
In 2014, the Children’s Home opened the Madison Youth Ranch in north Florida. The Youth Ranch provides specialized residential care, similar to our Enterprise campus, but with the addition of an Equine Assisted Therapy program. Typically, this type of therapy is a team effort where our therapist works with an equine specialist. As the youth learn to care for the horse, they also learn to care about themselves and tend to open up more to their therapist. Equine Assisted Therapy has been shown to treat a wide range of issues and can be especially effective with children who have difficulty opening up to a therapist about their trauma.
In an effort to expand our service continuum to families and children across Florida, in 2019 the Children’s Home acquired Circle of Friends Services, a non-profit community health provider. This has allowed us to provide needed services to more children who are dealing with abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and other difficulties, and provide those services in their home, at their school, as well as in a clinical setting. During the recent pandemic, the Circle of Friends professionals were able to continue providing care through virtual visits.
In 2020, we were asked by ChildNet, a foster care lead agency operating in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, to assume the operations and management of their emergency intake program called Safe Place. The eight bed shelter provides meals, clothing, and short term care while a child transfers to a foster home or other placement.
When you consider all the services we provide across the state, you’ll agree that we are much more than simply a children’s home.