Charlotte Brandin, Executive Director USA

Entrepreneurial funding – that’s how Childhood works!

In 2002, Childhood was just starting to fund projects in the US. Internationally, Childhood was present in 10 countries. Within the next 18 months, seven projects were granted funding as part of the Childhood USA portfolio of projects. Here are three examples of how Childhood works with projects.

Northside Center for Child Development

Harlem, New York

Northside Center for Child Development has received support from Childhood for almost a decade. Located in Harlem, and serving children in a poor community, Northside saw that despite the ‘extra’ efforts that all children in their elementary and middle-school classes received, there was one group of children that was still not able to take advantage of the additional attention – because they had been sexually abused and traumatized. Northside came to Childhood with a grant proposal to help this group of children, and created The Creative Arts Therapy program (CAT) that builds on a model that helps both the injured child and the non-offending parent. The program offers counseling, group therapy, but most importantly, healing of the trauma through art and artistic self-expression.

Miami, Florida

Kristi House, the Miami-Dade county designated Child Advocacy Center (CAC), is another organization that was referred to Childhood. In 2007, Kristi House presented an idea for a program that no funder, in Florida or elsewhere, was taking seriously, the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Kristi House had an ambitious plan: creating a network of community service providers, educate law enforcement of the problem, rescue children, evaluate and assist them, and finally help the children heal. A tall order that Kristi House ever since has successfully developed in to a program called G.O.L.D., Girls Owning and Living their Dreams. Earlier this year, the Safe Harbor legislation, treating children as victims instead of perpetrators of sexual crimes, was signed into law, and in early 2013, an emergency shelter for rescued girls will open. See recent article from project visit here.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

In 2005, The Bridge for Youth applied for funding, in collaboration with the Carlson Family Foundation, to start a program directed at helping Hmong girls who were trafficked within their own, small community.

In the course of the program, The Bridge realized that the issue of sexual exploitation, which is the preferred term together with commercial sexual exploitation (aka prostitution, a term not valid when describing children), was something that every youth who walked in their door was exposed to. Since then, The Bridge has incorporated a holistic view on the trauma of sexual exploitation embracing all children that they serve. Staff first broach the issue at intake, and continues carefully through counseling as they work through each and every child’s particular situation. It is a reality in any city in the US, within 24-36 hours a child who has been kicked out of or run away from home will be approached for sex in exchange for food or a bed to sleep in. The window of opportunity to help a child is limited, but The Bridge’s approach has shown that it can be successful.

These three examples of entrepreneurial funding represent core projects that were started as a result of community need, observant and active organizations, and attentive staff. They are hallmarks for how Childhood works, on a small-scale basis, investing in real efforts, and then developed into viable, successful and sustainable programs serving children in need.

We will share more of these ‘start-up’ stories in the months to come.


Charlotte Brandin, Executive Director USA

Project visits in Florida

At the end of the summer, Princess Madeleine and I visited two projects in Florida, USA: Kristi House in Miami, and Children’s Harbor in Pembroke Pines. Both projects have been part of the Childhood USA project portfolio since 2008, and it is great to visit and hear their latest news.

Staff at Kristi House


Kristi House is the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Miami-Dade County and runs other programs as well. One of them is called G.O.L.D, Girls Owning their Lives and Dreams. GOLD was created to connect community organizer, law enforcement and other agencies and form a network to prevent and intervene in sexual trafficking in Miami metro area. With more than 60% of the population in Miami born outside of the US, Miami is a hub of human and other traffic, coming from the south and transported throughout the US. Since GOLD started, Kristi House has also dedicated a lot of time to the Safe Harbor Act, which was passed earlier this year. The legislation treats children who are involved in sexual exploitation as victims, not as criminals.

But Kristi House also works directly with the victims of trafficking. On January 1, they will open a 30-day emergency shelter for girls who have been trafficked and need a place to stay. The home is located on the outskirts of Miami, and will house 6 trafficked girls at a time and give them a chance to break free from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and exploitation. After the 30 days, the girls move to a longer-term care facility for further care and rehabilitation services.

Newborn baby at Children’s Harbor

Children’s Harbor is an organization that provides homes for children in foster care. Childhood supports the Residence Maternity program for pregnant and parenting teenage girls.

As usual, it is very quiet and organized when we arrive at Children’s Harbor. There are small children, but usually they are involved in some activity inside, or are at school. The girls in the program, who are home, are with their babies.

Many of the girls who reside here have lived in several foster care homes before they come to Children’s Harbor. Being pregnant, they are not often welcome in a regular foster family. Children’s Harbor employs house parents who help with the babies so the girls can complete high school. When we visited, three babies less than one month old were sleeping quietly, and the teen moms take turns watching the babies to do their homework.

Children’s Harbor also takes in sibling groups. When a family is broken up and the children are removed by social services, they try to keep the siblings together. This way, the brothers and sisters can feel less alone. As scary as it can be to suddenly live somewhere else, being together makes it more familiar and comforting.

Both these organizations provide services for children in alternative care, one of Childhood’s target groups. Although a family is always considered a better place for a child, this is not always an option. House parents, like those at Children’s Harbor, often have their own children living there too. Family-like settings like this in one is just one stop on a continuum of care for children among the organizations that Childhood funds. Read more on children in alternative care here.