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Florida, like the rest of the nation, continues to experience the pressures and problems that gravely affect the health and stability of our families. American children today are more likely to be poor, drug-dependent, pregnant, murdered, or incarcerated than are children in any other industrialized nation. As former President Bush stated, "You can judge the character of a nation by how it treats its children. America is in a crisis." There is no group more powerless, more voiceless, and more in need of advocacy than today's children. In the United States, a child is reported abused or neglected every 11 seconds. These children live in our own communities and neighborhoods and attend school with our children.

There are times that the best solution to situations of abuse and neglect is to provide education and support services to the child and family. However, in more severe circumstances a child must be removed from the home and placed in foster or residential care. In District Eight alone, there are more than 1,000 children in protective supervision. More than 500 of these children are currently in the State's custody, meaning that they have been removed from their home. It is difficult for The Department of Children and Families (DCF) to find placements for all of these children.

Approximately one-fourth of the children in foster care do not have the option to return home, which means that these children need a new permanent home. DCF District Eight has only one long-term residential care facility, which is able to provide a home for 10 children. With your financial help, Liberty Youth Ranch will provide an additional 48 of these youth a loving place to call home, to learn healthy lifestyle choices, and to dream new dreams.

Each of the statistics in the pages that follow represents a child. This litany of societal distress is overwhelming, especially when you assign an individual child's face to each great problem. We know the faces and people behind the statistics–they are our neighbors. These statistics live across the road, down the street, go to school with our children, and play on the playgrounds at our community parks.

Most of us are blessed to belong to families with enough strength and solid faith to push back against the forces that would destroy us. Unfortunately, some families are not equipped to withstand these forces. They falter under the strain and eventually fall apart.

Is there a need for Liberty Youth Ranch? The statistics briefly discussed above and expanded on hereafter bestow overwhelming evidence of the need for Liberty Youth Ranch.

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