As we kiss our children good-bye and put them on the bus for the new school year, we worry that they will be as safe and happy at school as they are at home. There are, however, children in our community who are not safe and happy at home. Many of these children face physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect by the hands of the very people who are to love them the most. For these children, safety may not be a word they are familiar with. For these children, happiness may be a mirage.
Manatee Children’s Services in Bradenton, Florida was developed in 1977 in response to unmet needs in the community to protect children from the cycle of abuse. In 1979, the agency’s emergency shelter began operations and has since served thousands of children who have experienced varied abuse in their home lives. Dedicated to breaking the cycle of abuse for children, the emergency shelter at Manatee Children’s Services provides children, ages 6 to 17 years old, with safe housing, clothing, personal hygiene supplies, advocacy, clinical support, and transportation. The emergency shelter houses up to 12 children in need with the goal of providing a structured environment and individual care to the children in order to help facilitate emotional health and stability.
The emergency shelter is a home life stabilizing unit that houses children temporarily for generally 30 days or less. Children in the shelter await placement in foster care or residential homes. Because Manatee Children’s Services is dedicated to providing a stable home life for these children, the children receive guidance, role modeling, social skills, education, tutoring, behavioral management, therapy, and recreational activities.
Over the years, the Manatee and Sarasota communities have greatly assisted Manatee Children’s Services with much needed supplies and services for our children in the emergency shelter and residential homes. For instance, we are most appreciative to the community who came together to provide school supplies to our children and to provide such services, as hair grooming needs, to help the children feel good as they returned to school this year. We appreciate our community support because together we can continue to meet the vast needs of children who have suffered abuse and neglect in their traditional home life.
Partnering with the community is an essential step to meeting the needs of these children and to create hope and opportunity for each of them to have a better life. Manatee Children’s Services appreciates donations and stipends to assist with daily life needs, as well as, to brighten special days like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Providing services, such as hair grooming, is also needed. If your organization would like to donate services or products to Manatee Children’s Services, they can call 941-345-1200. Working together, as a community, we can begin to break the cycle of abuse to continue to restore emotional health and stability to children in need.
Manatee Children’s Services
Marcella Lacy, Residential Director