Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights – Everyone has seen the movie that brings back memories of their adolescent years. This is a time when you’re 17 years old and all you’re thinking about is the high school football game or the school dance, pep rallies, or what college you want to apply too. These are the typical thoughts your children should be thinking about, but what if you’re a child who has been removed from your family due to abuse or neglect? What do you think they’re thinking about? I can tell you. A lot of them are thinking, where am I going to sleep tonight, where is my next meal going to come from, and what am I going to do with the rest of my life. Turning 18 shouldn’t be such a struggle, but it is for a lot of youth.

Kids Central is the Community Based Care Lead Agency for Circuit 5 responsible for caring for those children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. Our geographical boundaries include, Citrus, Hernando, Marion, Lake, and Sumter Counties.

In 2013, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 1036, Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act. This new Act allowed a redesign of the Independent Living programs in Florida. The legislative intent of the new law reflects a keen understanding of the significant challenges and poor outcomes for many young people who have aged out of the foster care at age 18. Before the change in the law, children in foster care saw their services come to an end when they reached the age of maturity.  Thankfully, the new law extends foster care up to age 23.

With the changes in legislation, Kids Central needs host homes for youth 18-21 years of age. In our five-county area, we have 15 youth in Extended Foster Care living in 9 loving host homes. Children are aging out of the foster care system and coming into our program day-by-day. We anticipate 34 more youth aging out of foster care in the very near future. We have 6 youth in Citrus County, 4 youth in Hernando County, 11 youth in Lake County, 11 youth in Marion County, and 2 in Sumter County that we need host homes for. As you can see, there is a significant need for host homes to support youth in our community who will either be placed in homeless shelters or become homeless.

What is a host home? It is a stable home with a live in mentor who will assist the youth prepare for adulthood. These youth need guidance when it comes to learning the life skills necessary to be successful in the adult world. We need people who are willing to open their hearts and homes to mentor these youth and help them succeed in life.

It takes 4 easy steps to become a host home:

  1. Provide stable housing with supportive adult supervision
  2. Approved background screening
  3. Minimal home study
  4. 24 hour available support

These four steps stand between you and changing the life of a young adult. Once approved as a host home, you will receive a monthly board rate to support the young adult in your care.

Will you or your neighbor consider opening you home and heart? Positive life changes start at home, and they start with you. Imagine how these youth would thrive wrapped in the love of a family.

For more information, please contact Lindsey Tew at 352.387.3511 or