The Atlanta Children’s Foundation (ACF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2002. The foundation focuses on providing a solution to the quiet crisis of displaced children. The displaced children are Georgia’s 13,000 foster kids, who no longer have a permanent home. Our approach is simple; provide stability in their ever changing world.? We are dedicated to the conviction of the well-known proverb, “It ta kes a village to raise a child.” We believe it accurately characterizes the supportive relationship of the individuals, communities and social services. This village of people provide care to children who do not otherwise received the proper care essential to positive growth.
Most of us can’t really imagine the harsh reality of being a foster child. While there are many statistics documenting the number of displaced children in Georgia, the Atlanta Children’s Foundation (ACF) recognizes that these children are not just numbers. They are living stories, each one desperately searching for a happy ending.
With this understanding, the ACF is dedicated to the conviction of the well-known proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
We believe it accurately characterizes the proper relationship of individuals, communities and social services that provide care to children who cannot care for themselves. Acting on this proverb, we are committed to connecting individuals, organizations, and resources throughout the State of Georgia for the benefit of children in foster care. Through our ongoing commitment to provide resources and services for the benefit of these children, we have developed an integrated network — call it a safety net, call it support services or call it a helping hand… we call it THE Village.
THE VILLAGE is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of children who have been abused, abandoned and neglected.
“We are impressed by the amount of care you have shown for the children in our community. Neighbor To Family is pleased to build a long lasting relationship with The Village ’s Kids’ Camp.” Tony Everett, Director of Operations Neighbor To Family Atlanta, Georgia.In Georgia every 30 minutes, a child is the victim of abuse. Georgia received 101,563 reports of child abuse last year with 30,951 of those being substantiated as victims of child abuse. About 85% of those children were victims of severe neglect. As of December 2005, 15,119 children were in state custody; of these 30% have been in foster care for more than 24 months, 41% were less than six years old, and 67% were younger than 12. There are over 4,174 foster parents helping to care for 8,386 displaced children. Georgia ranks 39 out of 50 states and overall well- being.
Abused, abandoned and neglected children do not start their lives with the same advantages as the “normal” kids. They are a staggering 75% percentage of all sexuality exploited children and as adults represent:
80% of the prison population 50% of the unemployed 30% of the homeless.
Why start The Village?
“I remember the day we moved to the eastside of Detroit. The homes were neatly maintained, there were perfect lawns, clean streets, and even the alleys were spotless. I lived there with my older brother and sister.You see, my mother and father separated when I was about six years old. She didn’t know it at the time, but raising three children alone was going to be a challenge for Ma, one that she not only accepted, but actually mastered! Our challenges began when the neighborhood started to change. Many of the neighbors chose to move out after we moved in.
The new families that moved in were mostly single parent households. In fact, we ended up with more than thirty kids on our block, but only two or three actually had a father living in the home. While this was not an ideal situation, things could have been worse. After all, when you’re six years old life is easy, you worry about what time you can go and play, where you can go and play, and who’s going to play with you! But you soon find that life is more than play. Changes continued to take place within our neighborhood. The streets were not as clean anymore, and the neatly manicured lawns were replaced with weed trodden plots. Our alleys became infested with rats … I can remember lying in bed listening to them, as they chewed away at the structure beneath me.
It doesn’t take long before you realize that something is wrong. But those realities are soon replaced by visions of your new life, the life you’ll have as an NBA ball player; “I’m going to buy my family a new house” I would say, as I closed my eyes and prayed. With this hope, I knew what I was going to do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Ball! For many NBA players, this story is all too familiar. But unlike most fictional stories, there isn’t always a happy ending. In my case, I did make it to the NBA, and I did buy my family a new house. But there were a lot of days between the NBA and the Eastside of Detroit. Days filled with love and support from my family, and many caring people along the way. I could not imagine making it without them. And this is what “THE Village” is all about, love and support!
THE Village is not just a place, but a vision. It has to be a vision, because a vision is the only thing large enough to embrace all of the children that find themselves abandoned, without home, without family, and without hope.
Again, I cannot imagine what, where, or who I would be, had it not been for the love and support of my family. Well, for more than 400,000 children across this country, this is a reality. Here is another reality; most of them will never be reunited with their family!
I found that many of my hopes and dreams were rooted in the love for my family. Without them, my dreams may have withered and died. This is what happens to children whose dreams are rooted in the hope that they will someday be reunited with their family or someone will adopt them, and love and care for them. But after years of multiple placements and foster homes; many children still find themselves alone. Yet, they continue to wait and hope … long after their dreams have died. The mission of The Village is to reach out to children that are in need of a family. While we can never replace their families … We can give them the love and support that we have been so blessed to receive.” -Kevin Willis Atlanta Hawks