West Palm Beach, FL, November 05, 2020 –(PR.com)– As the exclusive nonprofit support of the Palm Beach County Guardian ad Litem Program, Speak Up for Kids knows well the provisional shortfalls within the dependency system and how going without access to various items stymies a child’s potential. The list of needs for children involved in foster care proceedings can be overwhelmingly long ranging including basic, daily-use items such as toothbrushes, personal hygiene products, clothing, and school supplies. “I always get emotional when anyone outside of the foster system develops an understanding of the challenges faced by child victims of abuse,” says Coleen LaCosta, Executive Director for Speak Up for Kids. “But, when they take massive action by creating a project aimed at improving outcomes for kids, I am left speechless.”
When we talk about school supplies, this goes beyond paper, pens, and pencils, and extends to the use of technology, even in K-12 academic settings. What has left LaCosta speechless this time is the heartfelt advocacy and support of the West Palm Beach Kiwanis Club. In a service project spearheaded by 18 year West Palm Beach Chapter Kiwanis Club member, Cherie Boone, 20 Dell computers were donated to Speak Up for Kids in an effort to bridge the educational and technological gap faced by so many children involved in “the system.”
“Our Kiwanis chapter is devoted to children and various aspects of the dependency, foster, and adoptive communities and gear many of our serve projects towards agencies who make a difference within those areas,” says Boone. When asked what prompted her to focus support on Speak Up for Kids, Boone said, “I am compelled to help those most vulnerable. These are children, who in the absence of a global pandemic, were in the most dire situations as it relates to normalcy and access. Their circumstances, coupled with COVID made it imperative for us to organize and assist.” Boone knows the successes and generational impact of intervention with child victims as her daughter is a foster parent who adopted from the foster care system. “Service to children is woven into the fabric of our family,” says Boone.
Florida state agencies, including the Department of Children and Families (FDOC) have not been exempted from nationwide budget tightening and were, in fact, told to hold off on planned spending due to shortfalls. Children, however, continued to enter dependency and foster care and the need for essential provision was increased.
According to the School District of Palm Beach County, students are required to use technology to appropriately prepare for the future. To accomplish this, they must be able to execute academic projects, presentations, and learning activities using dynamic technology. It cannot be taken for granted the direction the educational arena has taken especially in answer to COVID-19 where students and teachers transitioned to virtual learning, technology-driven platforms. Although this “wired,” mixed media learning environment improves engagement and knowledge retention, enhances individual learning and collaboration, and allows for the use of essential, 21st Century skills, it served to highlight disparities especially within dependency populations. Boone says, “As an organization, West Palm Beach Kiwanis hopes this gift bridges the gap for those who need it most.”
“Words cannot express the gratitude we have for Cherie and the West Palm Beach Kiwanis Club. It is genuinely like an early Christmas,” says LaCosta. “Twenty children will be better able to complete assignments; some may use this gift to complete college applications. What I know for sure is that the Kiwanis Club surely took to heart the commitment to ‘Speak Up for Kids.’”
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