On June 2, a group from the Great Oaks Village group foster home visited Orlando Public Library for a tour of the building. They showed their excitement for programs like BizKids Club and the objectively cool Melrose Center. They also received welcome bags full of library swag, but most importantly, they went home with their group home card, a new type of library card created to help prevent kids in group foster homes from falling through gaps in library service.
Group homes provide a place of safety for kids and young adults when their family home cannot. Because the state acts as the legal guardian for residents of group homes, with staff rotating to serve as caretakers, there is no individual who can be designated for guardianship – a requirement for juvenile library cards. Until now, this has prevented Orange County kids living in group homes from accessing the many programs and services available at the library. With the implementation of the group home card, staff at Orange County Library System plan to change that.
The privileges associated with the group home card are not so different from an average library card. Group home card users may check out up to 40 items at once, with standard loan periods and renewal times. No overdue fines or fees are accrued, ensuring that kids living at Great Oaks Village will not encounter barriers to using the library. The card also provides access to public computers, databases and digital platforms as well as the ability to sign up for classes and events.
Staff at OCLS and Great Oaks Village are hopeful that access to the library’s many services will help kids develop their research skills, providing them with “motivation to believe that they can succeed,” says Great Oaks Village Education Residential Services Supervisor Chasmin Hill. Chasmin also hopes that more frequent visits to the library will help get the kids “into the normalcy of this type of outing and experience, as if they were living at home.”
For OCLS staff, making the library part of someone’s routine is certainly also a goal. The group home card joins programs like Library Social Workers and The Right Service at the Right Time as resources for the community beyond the printed page. The work done to establish the group home card has paved the way to success not only for current and future residents of Great Oaks Village, but also for providing library services to community members who need it the most.
If you have questions about the new card type for group homes, email email@example.com.