Children from families that have faced challenges or dysfunction, those who live in foster care or who have been abused, impoverished, or neglected, are more likely to experience problems parenting they grow up.
KKids, a North Fort Myers non-profit organization, is looking to break that cycle and put children in situations where they will be loved, safe and cared for, while helping to restore families whenever possible.
KKids, an acronym for Keeping Kids in Distress Safe, was founded by Karen Scott in 2002 and incorporated into a non-profit in 2016. The goal is to set up group homes in the community, as well as have laws changed regarding the foster system.
Scott said that awareness is just that, and without action, it doesn’t do much good.
“The system is so antiquated and children are falling through the cracks and dying because they are in a system that’s failing them,” Scott said. “We want people who have a heart for children and extra room in their house to take in a foster group in spring into action because there are so many ways they can help.”
KKids gets its charges through the Children’s Network, Lutheran Services and, sometimes, caretakers are friends of family and the mother has been arrested and they don’t want their children in the system.
Basically, caretakers open their homes to any child who needs them – and they are everywhere. Scott has even taken in children over the summer and, when one of their parents died of a drug overdose, she took over legal guardianship until their father could be found.
“They turned out to be one of our success stories. We found their biological dad who lived in New York and he is an amazing man,” Scott said. “The drug culture is fluid and he was looking for them, but the mom hid them from him.”
The goal is to undo any damage of abuse and childhood trauma for children in foster care through love and professional therapy, through Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties.
Scott’s work has gotten her noticed. Last month, she was nominated for the Elmer Tabor Award which recognizes those in the Cape Coral area through their charitable works.
The big problem KKids has is with so many children on a waiting list, they have no more beds.
The group has 13 kids currently and is hoping to take in as many as 22.
“We have found a property we would like to turn into our group home on Arondale Drive. We need someone to finance it for us or buy it outright and allocate it for the foundation,” Scott said. “It will be the model for other group homes we open in the area. We just can’t take any more right now, we’re maxed out.”
The property they seek has an in-law suite that would be perfect for those in college and ready to transition.
KKids will also take in older kids and those transitioning into adulthood and teach them life skills, such as how to handle money and find a job, that will get them ready for the adult world.
The property costs almost a half-million dollars and, while they have money coming in from benefactors, it’s not enough to make a lump-sum purchase.
KKids is accepting money online and through the community foundations, its website, a giving campaign, GoFundMe, social media and speaking at events, Scott said.
“If it weren’t for God’s people and their generous hearts, we would never be able to do what we do because we get no money from the state,” Scott said. “Our grocery bill is $800 a week because these kids want to eat every day and we give them good food, not processed. God is covering us every day.”