In the realm of child custody and co-parenting challenges, Our Children Have Rights .Org emerges as a beacon of empowerment. Greg Hill and Jake Hornstein, longtime family friends, have united as co-founders driven by a shared vision. This convergence sparked the idea of an organization rooted in Greg's book, 'Our Children Have Rights,' which was released in 2019, following his personal parental journey navigating the family court system. Reuniting in 2020, the two reconnected and shared their vision of helping more children. Their collaboration resulted in the creation of Our Children Have Rights .Org (OCHR) in 2021, a web-based platform offering resources to navigate custody battles and co-parenting complexities. This platform is all centered around the belief in uplifting parents to transform countless children's lives.
OCHR is dedicated to ensuring children's access to both parents through co-parenting education, resources, and support. By simplifying legal intricacies, the organization provides accessible tools and guidance for successful outcomes. It also offers easier access to affordable, confidential on-demand licensed counseling, providing parents with necessary guidance and emotional support.
Committed to inclusivity, OCHR extends no cost consultations and assistance for reviewing essential documents like parenting plans. The organization's 24/7 online resource centers serve as hubs for information, consultations, and a supportive community space, ensuring assistance is readily available.
Q: Jake, tell us about Our Children Have Rights .Org’s mission. Who are you impacting with this mission?
A: OCHR is on a mission to safeguard children's access to both parents. Our aim is to simplify the process for parents and enable children to reach their full potential. We offer no cost services such as one-on-one consultations and document review to all parents, regardless of their circumstances. OCHR is here to empower parents with educational resources that can help them navigate legal issues effectively, potentially reducing or eliminating the need for costly legal assistance. We also provide support for parents seeking the right attorney for their specific circumstances, guiding them through the selection process. We do this through partnerships with Pro Bono legal aid agencies and county-wide Bar Associations, who have Lawyer Referral Services. OCHR's no-cost approach serves as a valuable tool to counter worrisome statistics and uplift at-risk youth.
Q: How did the name “Our Children Have Rights .Org” come about?
A: We named the organization Our Children Have Rights .Org for two key reasons. First, it echoes the title of Greg's book, "Our Children Have Rights," reflecting a turning point in his custody process—the realization that the process wasn't about him or the co-parent, but about his son's right to equal access to both accountable parents. Second, the ".Org" highlights our online accessibility to parents statewide. This choice signifies our commitment to free and widespread services.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges and successes you’ve faced along your journey?
A: Greg and I are incredibly fortunate and blessed to be able to dedicate ourselves full-time to the organization without yet taking salaries. Our goal is to eventually take salaries, and in the meantime, all our funding goes toward supporting our programming, primarily consisting of providing educational content and one-on-one direct engagements with parents through online meetings and communications.
Beyond providing no-cost assistance to parents, our success lies in our collaborations with various organizations, such as those in the child welfare system, juvenile justice system, nonprofits, children's services councils, community-based organizations, school districts, and service providers, enabling us to expand rapidly and assist more parents. In turn, we refer many parents to other nonprofits offering services we don't provide ourselves, such as healthcare navigation, licensed therapy, behavioral health support, assistance with programs like SNAP and W.I.C., housing support, financial literacy, and more.
Q: Is there anyone that helped you along the way you’d like to recognize?
A: The Tampa Bay nonprofit and business community have been great to us. Our mission is well-received, and we've built trust with many other nonprofit organizations we collaborate with. I’m hesitant to name names, but I’d be remiss not to thank key Tampa Bay nonprofit leaders like Dr. Sandra Braham (CEO, Gulf Coast JFCS), Thomas Mantz (CEO, Feeding Tampa Bay), and Carrie Ziesse (CEO, Tampa Bay Thrives). Each has truly been inspirational leaders for us, and their organizations have programs and services that allow us to better help OCHR parents.
Q: Can you give a piece of advice for those looking to get into this industry?
A: For those aspiring to enter the industry, my advice would be to actively connect with a variety of individuals in the field. If you're shaping a nonprofit idea or already in the initial stages, share your vision openly. We discovered that people within the nonprofit sector are genuinely willing to offer valuable insights, including facilitating introductions. Given the interconnected nature of the field, building meaningful relationships is essential. People truly appreciate the effort we invested in seeking guidance, posing thoughtful questions, and gathering input on our concept and program—both before filing our 501c3 application and continuing to do so.
Q: What is your long-term vision for your organization?
A: Greg and I are committed to leading OCHR indefinitely as we believe in its enduring necessity. The organization's focus on co-parenting strategies, provided free of charge, holds potential to counteract the alarming challenges faced by single-parent families. Research shows that children raised without access to both accountable and willing parents are at significantly higher risk of poverty, school dropout, and incarceration. OCHR bridges this gap, offering vital support to disadvantaged youth and addressing the persistent issues that afflict communities. As conventional approaches falter, grassroots organizations like OCHR are making a tangible impact by strengthening families and communities through accessible services, with the positive effects of solid co-parenting strategies rippling across generations and uplifting the broader economy.
Q: What’s next for you and your organization?
A: The main goal is to enable the continuation and growth of OCHR’s impact throughout the Tampa Bay community. Our ongoing commitment is to provide accessibility without financial constraints, creating a no cost 'one-stop-shop' for all child custody and co-parenting needs, continuing our track record of assisting over 20,000 parents through our online platform since 2021. We’ve conducted no cost consultations to 955 parents through various channels (Zoom, FaceTime, email, and phone) and reviewed 419 parenting plans and related documents.
Moving forward, we'll build on our most recent accolade with the AMPLIFY Clearwater Community Spirit Award, as well as recognition from the Florida's Child Welfare System and esteemed organizations like the Florida Coalition for Children and FL DCF. We're excited to remain a proactive solution, and we’re honored to have been invited to share our expertise as featured speakers at key events, such as the Florida Coalition for Children's annual conference and the Florida Juvenile Justice Association Annual Retreat. These opportunities enhance our outreach and impact on families, both throughout Tampa Bay and across the state.
Q: How can people get more involved with Our Children Have Rights and continue to follow it for more updates and information?
A: Support of our mission is vital, and we kindly ask you to consider a small financial contribution to our program. Anyone can visit ourchildrenhaverights.org or donate at ourchildrenhaverights.org/donate. Most importantly, if you, or someone you know, needs our assistance, we’re here for you. We’re on a mission… A mission to protect the rights of children to have access to both responsible and involved parents by providing education, resources, and support services for successful co-parenting. Why? Because Our Children Have Rights.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add or would like the public to know?
A: For families in need, there’s no shortage of resources that exist across our community.
Sometimes the challenge is knowing what resources are out there. We try hard to bridge that
gap and can do so by having a good understanding of the organizations that exist. Lastly, we want to thank Tampa Bay Nonprofits for allowing us to share our mission. We’re very happy that we found you on Instagram. And we truly appreciate your support highlighting nonprofits that are doing incredible work through our community.
In the realm of child custody and co-parenting challenges, Our Children Have Rights .Org serves as a vital source of support and guidance. Through their accessible online legal expertise and counseling, this organization provides essential resources for navigating custody arrangements. To stay informed about their impactful initiatives and to access their resources, we encourage you to visit their website and connect with them on Instagram. Together, we can ensure that children's rights are upheld and protected.