This week, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the launch of “Hope Florida – A Pathway to Potential” to break down government silos and expand services for at-risk youth and their families.
“In Florida, we believe that every child has been blessed with unique talents and gifts, even if they haven’t realized it yet, which is why we are launching this new program to put at-risk youth on a Pathway to Potential,” said DeSantis. “We also know that involvement in the juvenile justice system does not happen overnight, and a lot of the time it is the result of difficulties at home and at school. With this new expansion of Hope Florida, we are making sure children across the state are connected with support and mentors in their communities that can help put them back on the right path.”
Hope Florida – A Pathway to Potential, operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), will include 40 Hope Navigators (two in each of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits), who will be directly involved in supporting youth by connecting them and their families with resources that can provide support for various issues, both immediate and longer term.
“We know the best way to keep kids from entering the juvenile justice system is by helping them at the first sign of trouble,” said Department of Juvenile Justice Sec. Eric Hall. “Creating Hope Florida – A Pathway to Potential will allow us to assist youth who are going down the wrong path, which will ultimately help to build stronger families and increase public safety in our communities. I am so grateful to our First Lady for her support and for supporting our state’s most vulnerable children.”
“I have mentored children my entire adult life, and here is what I’ve learned: We have to give our most vulnerable children and their parents the tools they need to succeed,” said state Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee. “No child’s destiny should be defined by their earliest mistakes. I am proud to stand with our First Lady to expand the Hope Florida model to support at-risk youth and their families.”
Families in need of services can connect with the program from a number of pathways, including by calling the Hope Line (850-300-HOPE).
“Thanks to the First Lady’s leadership, we have been able to help thousands of Floridians in a truly bold and transformational way through the Hope Florida program,” said Department of Children and Families Sec. Shevaun Harris. “This expansion of the Hope Florida program will enhance our state’s prevention efforts for vulnerable youth, and we are excited at the opportunity it will present in supporting youth who may also be dually served by both DCF and DJJ.”
Services will now be available statewide and will include help for parents and guardians who are dealing with issues at home, including:
Youth who are habitually truant from school;
Youth who are running away from home;
Youth who are forming negative relationships and being negatively influenced by peers.
This announcement builds off of the recent inclusion of the private sector to support Hope Florida. The incorporation of businesses into Hope Florida makes the Sunshine State first in the nation to expand CarePortal to businesses. Through this partnership, businesses can provide tangible items like mattresses, bed sheets and clothes, as well as financial assistance and transportation to Floridians with short-term unmet needs.
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