For many, the holiday season is a time filled with fun traditions, festive dinners and beautifully wrapped presents. The worries and strife of daily life are put aside and cheerful memories are made with loving friends and family. As warm and inviting as this picture may be, it is not shared by all.

Unfortunately, the holiday season can be a whirlwind of stress, frustration and disappointment for many youth and their families. Financial hardship often takes a toll on families during this time, unable to celebrate the holidays with the gifts their children and relatives deserve. For some, the increased time spent together due to schools being out for winter break and offices or businesses closing to observe the holidays can cause tempers to flare. For others, the lack of quality time among family members due to increased work and obligations can feel isolating and depressing.

In addition, with all of the festivities and parties that occur during the holidays, there is often a rise in alcohol consumption. Decreased inhibitions and reckless behavior can lead to emotional and physical abuse within households, endangering both children and adults.

For those who may be experiencing strife this holiday season, The Florida Network of Youth and Family Services lends a comforting hand. Our 29 member agencies and 28 shelters across the state are open every day of the year and are dedicated to providing valuable help and resources to Florida’s at-risk youth and families during difficult times – including the holidays.

Though many enjoy this season as a time of peace and happiness, we understand that not every household is the same. For those experiencing hardship or family violence that makes the holiday season difficult to bear, the Florida Network and its member agencies and shelters provide a safe haven.

If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence or facing difficult challenges this holiday season, visit or call (850) 922-4324 to find a member agency or shelter near you.

Stacy Gromatski is the president and CEO of the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services. She can be reached at