Our Challenge and Our Joy
Programs that develop the strengths of the family and provide practical strategies to overcome challenges are in great need. In the primarily rural communities we serve, mentoring programs are extremely rare to non-existent. Abuse, neglect, and dependency often become generational. According to the latest reports specific to North Carolina from the Child Welfare League of America published in 2019: In 2014, approximately 18,000 children ages 12 to 17 needed, but had not received, treatment for alcohol use in the past year. Approximately 26,000 children ages 12 to 17 needed, but had not received, treatment for illicit drug use in the past year. In 2015, an estimated 6,000 children age 12 to 17 were alcohol dependent. 242,000 adults age 18 and older were dependent on alcohol or used heroin. Health care costs related to opioid abuse reached $582,486,663. 468 children lived in juvenile correction facilities. In 2016, 40,000 teens ages 16 to 19 were not enrolled in school and not working. 132,000 young adults ages 18 to 24 were not enrolled in school, were not working, and had no degree beyond high school. 16,027 children younger than 18 were arrested. Violent crimes were the reason for 923 of the arrests. In 2017, there were 20 reports of children aged 10 to 14 committing suicide, and 59 reports of suicide among children aged 15 to 19. 89 children under age 19 were killed by a firearm, compared to 84 in 2015. 94,880 grandparents had the primary responsibility of caring for their grandchildren.
Common struggles vulnerable children face are: increased likelihood of a learning disability, inadequate life skills training, unstable living conditions and inconsistent care, lack of a social support system, frequent transfer from school to school, and poor adult advocacy. These struggles result in common life patterns such as mental health issues, increased risk of addictions and substance abuse, lack of education, involvement with the criminal justice system, poverty, domestic violence, and poor parenting skills/absentee parenting.
Reducing social isolation; creating supportive social networks; teaching appropriate behaviors and stress responses; developing relationship skills; providing a platform of faith or inner peace; and developing an awareness of self and individual worth are core elements of Seeds of Hope programming developed to combat the perpetuation of the cycles of abuse, neglect, dependency, and poverty.