TAMPA, Florida (FloridaToday.news) – 8 On Your Side has been identifying problems in Florida’s foster care system for years, including foster children sleeping in offices and vehicles while they await initial placement.
“We already have too many children in the child protection system. We have over 3,000 children and the idea of having more children in our child protection system is mind boggling,” said Terry Baliet, CEO of Children’s Network of Hillsborough.
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The Hillsborough Children’s Network is the premier child protection agency in the county.
The house of Isaiah 117 saw the problem and heard the cry. Now locals are bringing the national organization to Hillsborough County, working on a solution and changing the way foster care starts.
“This organization is dedicated to helping children who find themselves in an unsafe environment and are forced to go to the Isaiah house that we are building in Tampa,” volunteer Aurora said.
Aurora is only nine years old. “I love helping kids,” she said.
Aurora and her sister Isla raise awareness. Their aunt, Lauren Pashley, said the foster children would have somewhere to stay for hours or days until accommodation was found.
“They will have a warm, safe and loving home full of volunteers with freshly baked cookies and we will take care of them, we will give them clothes, baths and toys,” Pashley said.
The foster care system is made up of private and public organizations, but Pashley believes Isaiah 117 House fills a gap.
“The foster family is broken, the system is just as complicated, but the more people help, the more we can change it,” Pashley said.
Police say an armed suspect has died in a shooting involving an officer in Tampa.
The organization is not yet active. They are looking for a place to build.
“Hopefully this will slightly lessen the traumatic experience they have already gone through,” Balier said.
The mission is to make difficult experiences more loving.
“It makes me feel strong and brave and what I’m doing on this earth is right,” Aurora said. The Hillsborough Children’s Network is always looking for foster parents.
Isiah 117 House opened in East Tennessee in 2014. Since then, there are about 40 offices in the southeast. In addition to the organization coming to Hillsboro, it is also in its early stages in Sarasota and Manatee counties.