Building New Hope Case Statement
Since its founding in 1996, New Hope for Kids has grown steadily and evolved to meet the needs of children and families in the Central Florida Community. Each year there is greater demand for grief support services as more children face the death of loved ones through terminal illness, accidents and, sadly, homicide and suicide. Every year we see more heartbreaking cases of children with terminal and life-threatening illnesses like cancer, cystic fibrosis, and degenerative brain disease.
Children who have experienced a traumatic death are at increased risk for significant, long-term behavioral and emotional problems that can follow them the rest of their lives. They face much higher levels of depression, truancy, educational failure and even teen pregnancy, substance abuse and suicide.
Prisons and psychiatric institutions are full of men and women who did not receive the type of professional help offered through our programs. We deal with children who have encountered family violence throughout their life and now must deal with the death of their mother or father. We work with children who have experienced the
suicide of a parent or sibling and there is an incredibly high statistical probability of these children also committing suicide if they do not receive proper support. Our Grief Program is the only one of its kind in Central Florida, offering specialized support to both children and their caregivers to ensure that the family works together to solve
problems associated with the death. This is a crucial program feature because the death of a loved one affects all family members and often causes family upheaval.
In 2013 New Hope for Kids served 396 new children and their families while offering continued family support services for more than seven thousand children and care givers who have participated in our programs. These families are healing emotionally and moving forward to become healthy, happy, contributing members of our Central Florida community.
The latest available statistics show that the population of children enrolled in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties exceeded 306,000 and that at least 18,360 of them will lose a parent by the time they reach 16 years of age. These figures do not account for the loss of siblings or other family members. We are still only reaching a small percentage of these kids and we need to grow if we are to help more of these children.
The demand is great and the need is continually growing. The number of families wishing to take part in our grief program has steadily increased since 2004, but the physical space available has remained constant. We simply must move to a larger facility in order to continue serving those who need us.
In 1996, New Hope for Kids opened its doors and began offering a unique program to Central Florida families. New Hope for Kids’ beautiful home-like facility in Maitland created a perfect environment that made children and adults feel at home and relax enough to start their healing process.
As the number of families attending New Hope for Kids grew, it became increasingly difficult to serve all those who wished to attend. In 2004 we sought ways to open up space in our existing facility to accommodate new grief families. We tried to incorporate multiple usages in all of our rooms. In the morning they served as office space for counselors and program personnel. In the afternoon and evening they served as group meeting space for the kids. However, this proved to be impractical. Offices require file cabinets and document storage that take up too much space. Sensitive documents with family and/or donor records, office supplies and equipment could not be left in areas accessible to the children and families who attend our programs.
At this point we looked at other options.
- We considered enlarging our current facility, but there was insufficient land available.
- We considered using existing attic or basement space for offices or counseling areas, but city ordinances made this impossible.
- We considered relocating some staff members to open up more space for our program needs.
- We had the option of buying land and building a new facility or purchasing an existing building that would meet our needs into the future. At that time the local real estate market was still booming and purchasing land and building would have been cost prohibitive. Staff and Board members looked into acquiring land through a donation, but the only land acquired in this manner was a small site in Eustis, Florida which was inappropriate for our needs.
The best option, considered temporary, was to move most of our staff into outside office space to free up rooms for program activities. Since 2007 only the Grief Program Director and the Group Coordinator have operated from our Maitland facility. All other staff members work from offices rented from SunTrust Bank and located in the Fern Park area. This separation of personnel has resulted in difficulties coordinating shared program activities and communications in general. While development and finance personnel can function adequately in separated offices, other personnel need to coordinate their efforts in order to properly execute the various programs and activities that make up our mission.
In addition, rent, utility, computer and telephone costs have increased without significantly adding to the efficiency of our program services. Most significantly, although the use of rented space allowed us to adequately serve the growing demand for grief services for several years, our current facility is no longer sufficient even for this because family requests for help have continued to increase.
A new facility will allow us to undertake all grief and wish services offered by our organization in an efficient and effective way. There are many ways of efficiently utilizing space so it serves more than one function and this has been taken into consideration.
An attached description of our program mission and services will also help illustrate all the activities that take place at New Hope for Kids.
The following criteria show why we need a larger facility:
- In 2009 and 2010 we served 327 children. We served 359 in 2011, 375 in 2012 and 396 in 2013. The numbers of children served has been growing over the years, but we no longer have space available to handle this growth and must place children on a waiting list. Imagine telling a teen who discovered her mother’s body after a suicide that she has to wait until a spot opens for her.
- The City of Maitland Fire Marshall has provided capacity limits for both adults and children for each activity room at the Grief Center. Since we are now at these limits, we cannot add additional children to these activities.
- New Hope for Kids is unable to effectively serve grief children with special needs or mobility issues because there is no elevator or handicap access to the 2nd floor. In more than one case, a family has decided to physically carry their child up and down the stairs so that he/she may participate, but this is unsafe and impractical for most families. Our bathrooms are not wheel chair accessible due to size, but renovating them would further decrease the size of adjoining rooms and close off necessary passageways and exits.
- New Hope for Kids only has room to conduct grief sessions for two age groups on any one evening. This means families with children in several age ranges cannot bring all their children to sessions on the same evening, but must attend two nights a week instead of one. This overlapping attendance means some grieving families cannot participate and space for new families is further limited.
- New Hope for Kids lacks sufficient space to accommodate all children on any given evening with normal program activities. For example, the paint room only accommodates 3 children at one time. Not only is demand much higher for this activity, but painting is a form of art therapy that is an extremely vital program component. The same applies to the hurricane room (capacity 3) which allows children to work off anger and anxiety in a healthy way. The game room, sand room and play room are also affected.
- There is no space available to expand needed activities for the children to progress, including physical activities, teen activities and music related activities.
- New Hope for Kids is unable to effectively serve Spanish speaking families because there is insufficient room for concurrent sessions with Spanish speaking counselors. Presently we ask adults to participate in our general support group and provide a translator, but this interferes with the flow of the session. The Spanish speaking adult is uncomfortable having to wait for translations or ask the translator to interpret.
- Many New Hope for Kids families have children under the age of 3. We do offer volunteer babysitting services so the rest of the family is free to attend their sessions, but there is insufficient space to fully incorporate this in our current facility.
- New Hope for Kids is unable to hold any children’s events on site and must rent or seek donated space outside to accommodate them.
- New Hope for Kids has only 12 parking places and a normal night requires at least 32 parking places. In addition to families that attend, we have a high volume of volunteer grief facilitators that work with the children each evening.
- There is insufficient space for all staff to work in one facility.
In conclusion, there is only one option if New Hope for Kids is to continue to provide the highest level of program service to Central Florida children and families. We must move to a larger facility specifically designed to meet the needs of our grieving families and special needs children.
In order to do this, we must be able to count on the support of all the members of this community because the services New Hope for Kids offers makes us all better, healthier and stronger.