Advocates for Children: Strengthening Community and Empowering Families
As Advocates for Children in northwest Georgia celebrates the organization’s 40th anniversary, the team takes pride in their countless accomplishments, including client success stories, new and expanded programs and the purchase and renovation of their new headquarters where all prevention, education and advocacy programs are now under one roof.
Advocates provides services to children and families who have been the victims of abuse and neglect and offers multiple layers of personal care through programs to reduce the incidence of child abuse. Serving 11 counties, Advocates provides safety, comfort and hope to more than 15,000 children, youth and adults every year. Additionally, they manage more than 170 Safe Place sites in Bartow County and surrounding counties.
“Many of the families we work with are in the child welfare system and struggling with poverty,” explains Tracy Arp, Associate Shelter Manager and RHY Coordinator with Advocates for Children. “We can provide emergency shelter and prevention services to youth in need of immediate assistance or who may be experiencing a crisis. We often find youth in need of emergency shelter services have been exposed to substance abuse, domestic violence and who may be living below the poverty line.”
Another way Advocates helps at-risk youth thrive is through their residential programs. RISE Youth Independent Housing aims to assist young people who do not have a permanent home obtain and maintain housing, become self-sufficient and grow into independent and successful adults. In 2021, 100% of clients moved from homelessness to housing in 30 days or less after entering the program.
Additionally, the Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter is a residential program for at-risk youth ages 10 to 18 who have been abused, neglected and/or sexually exploited or who have run away and are homeless. The shelter program provides safe and stable housing by partnering with non-abusive parents, relatives, foster parents and adoptive families while maintaining community ties. During the 2022 school year, 86% of residents earned passing grades in all classes at progress report and report card time.
With strong community ties, Advocates involves its many partners in National Runaway Prevention Month. Last year, the team placed shopping carts – loaned to them by Publix and adorned with educational fliers – in area schools for an awareness campaign and glove drive. Students and families learned about youth homelessness and filled the carts with donated gloves to benefit youth.
Furthermore, Advocates for Children established collaborative partnerships with Safe Place sites, such as Kona Ice, during NRPM. Kona Ice, in recognition of the awareness month, introduced a unique green and yellow slushy to their menu. In addition to this, the Advocates team secured prominent downtown district buildings to light up green, effectively serving as beacons of awareness and hope. These buildings featured a prominent QR code display, allowing passersby to access comprehensive information about Advocate’s mission and the critical issues faced by young victims of abuse and neglect.
For NRPM 2023, Tracy and her colleagues are planning similar activities as last year plus a few new innovative efforts. As the team prepared for NRPM, Tracy said, “We’re creating an even stronger presence on social media, hosting more activities in the schools and possibly partnering with restaurants for an awareness-building and fundraising initiative. I’m optimistic we’ll achieve our goals and our residents will respond well to our efforts.”
To learn more about Advocates for Children, visit their website: https://advochild.org/.