Archive for August, 2012

Children Truly Are Our Future

We tend to imagine childhood as a time of carefree innocence, when youngsters play and go to school without the pressures and disappointments of adult life. Sadly, many children don’t enjoy this kind of idealized upbringing. For those in poverty, the harsh realities of the world become part of their day-to-day lives at an early age.

Annually, an estimated 1.5 million American children are homeless at some point in the year. A comparable number of children have at least one parent incarcerated in jail or prison. Many other families, while not homeless, are so poor that they struggle to provide food and other necessities to their children. Poverty is hard on anyone, but it is especially troubling when it affects children. Childhood builds the foundation for successful, healthy adult lives later on. If youngsters are deprived of a stable home life, an education, or a parent’s loving presence in their lives, they will sink deeper into a cycle of intergenerational poverty.

That’s why Volunteers of America offers so many programs to help children thrive at a young age, no matter what their circumstances might be. We take a holistic approach to care, knowing that children can’t thrive unless their parents and other family members receive the support they need to overcome their own troubles and provide a stable home environment.

We provide child care, Head Start and early literacy programs to help young children get a bright start. We serve school age children by providing before and after school programs, summer camps and mentoring. We have a long-standing partnership with Scholastic to provide books to children who otherwise might not be exposed to the joys of reading. Our Look Up and Hope programs offer prisoners, their children and the children’s caregivers a variety of services designed to maintain relationships between incarcerated parents and their children, while providing the life skills needed to transcend the devastating effects of poverty and incarceration.

I know it’s a cliché, but children truly are our future. If we help those in need early in life, we can avoid a number of devastating social ills later on … and that ultimately helps improve society for all of us. For more information about Volunteers of America’s programs for children, please visit www.voa.org/Get-Help/National-Network-of-Services/Children-Youth-Families.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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