ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Florida's foster care system changed last year giving young people support until they turn 21. But lawmakers didn't give that system more money.
Brittany Martorello's room is an extension of her. She said the butterflies represent her own metamorphosis from being a young girl trapped in an abusive home to a young woman with a bright future.
"I could've been dead. I could've been dead way long ago," said Martorello.
Martorello went into foster care when she was 14. When she aged out of the old program at 18 she tried living on her own but got into trouble.
She ended up at a group home for young adults called the Faine House.
"(Faine House) saved my life," Martorello said.
Dericka Miles said she ended up in the foster care system because of abuse.
"I don't think I would've been able to have those opportunities if I'd never been placed in foster care," said Miles.
Julia Shaffer shared a similar story.
"I wouldn't be where I am without them," Shaffer said.
A change to Florida law means Martorello, Miles and Shaffer, who are 18 or older, can still get housing and assistance through the foster care system until they're 21.
Gerry Glynn works with Community Based Care, the organization in charge of providing those services.
He said he agrees that teens need more support, but lawmakers didn't include the additional $1.8 million that his group needs to help those teens between ages 18-21.
"If we can't get the politicians to make the right decisions, we need the community back us up," said Glynn.
Community Based Care helps place children in foster homes and helps get them the financial resources they need. CBC partners with nonprofit organizations such as Children’s Home Society and Covenant House to provide the services those children and young adults require.
Glynn estimated the additional support will cost Community Based Care $1.8 million.
The state is not giving the foster care system more money and turned down an option to receive federal funding. That’s where CBC hopes the community will step in, through donations, mentoring or housing a foster child.
Under the new system, Glynn said, the foster parents are being better trained on how to prepare the children to live on their own. A foster child would be able to stay in a foster parent’s home until 21 or could receive monetary help if they’re in college.
If you’d like to help, you can contact CBC at: 321-441-2060 or CBCCFL.org