Florida Baptist Children’s Homes provides Emergency Shelter for school-age children at the Lakeland campus. The shelter is a 24-hour intake facility that’s designed for short-term care of boys and girls who are in a crisis and needimmediate placement. These children may be homeless, abused, abandoned, neglected, or caught up in an insurmountable family conflict. Because of the emergency nature of the situations, admission procedures are streamlined so these children can be accepted almost immediately.
The shelter is a group-living, family-style cottage similar to the ones in our Residential Care, except it can accommodate up to 12 children at a time. It is staffed with child care workers who work in shifts but don’t live there; these staff meet the same requirements as our Residential child care workers. Emergency Shelter Care provides for the children’s food, clothing, shelter, transportation, education, spiritual needs, etc.
When a child is living in our shelter, one of our social workers/case workers develops a Service Plan and meets with all of the interested parties — the child, his or her family, other social service agencies, court personnel, etc. — to arrange for counseling if warranted, to advocate on the child’s behalf, and to decide what long-term living arrangements would be in the child’s best interest. Regarding the latter, sometimes the decision is to transfer him or her to Residential Care, Foster Care or another Florida Baptist Children’s Homes program, if and when space becomes available.