“We want others to know that we want every child in foster care to be treated as biological children with freedom to do everything other children do…”
Staff at Caring Hearts for Children
Caring Hearts for Children (CHFC) is a child placing agency in Comanche, Texas that has provided quality, safe environments for children to grow and develop since 2010. Some services they provide include connecting children and families to various resources in the community, advocating for their clients within the court system and acting as a liaison between all parties involved to ensure the needs of all children and families are met and their best interest is always the priority. The work they do fits into the continuum of services provided in the system in many ways. They license caring foster homes that meet all standards and create stable environments for children. These foster homes are able to care for children from several cases and will continue to care for children for years to come. Over the years their foster homes are able to gain experience and in turn provide informed care for their children. Secondly, they help promote the development and autonomy of their children so that they may leave the foster care system with the ability to be productive members of society. CHFC staff expressed that their children are a testament to how the foster care system works and what changes need to be made. They love seeing their children go out into the community and make changes for the future.
Caring Hearts for Children ensures that all of their families provide a safe, stable, and loving environment where children in care can thrive. They are treated like biological children through the promotion of normalcy such as being involved in daily activities. They also utilize case management skills to asses the needs of both the foster family and child by providing any resources necessary. They encourage children in care to be productive members of society. Some examples include: obtaining a drivers license, being prepared for college, and engaging in community activities.
“There seems to be a huge misunderstanding about children of all ages in foster care or kids who are 'in the system' and that is that these children are bad...Correction, these kids are not bad; they have had bad things happen to them, they have bad behaviors, they’ve had bad examples to follow... We work to create new GOOD memories, our staff are trained to re-direct behaviors, and they are positive influences who teach the girls life skills they will need as they begin to age out of the foster care system."
Dhelynn McClellan, CATP
The Treehouse Center is a home-y environment in Conroe, TX that strives to create a typical, healthy life for their children. Their goal is to create a “normal” family setting that encourages children to learn appropriate parent-child boundaries and relationships.
All of their caregivers are nurturing mother figures who love and care for their kids and have been adequately trained to direct and assist the girls with their coping skills. They pride themselves on the amount of successful program completions, leading to positive discharges on to foster homes, adoption, and in some cases reunification with a member of the child’s family.
The Treehouse Center is an all women Center down to their office staff, therapists, Clinical Director, and CEO. They do not tolerate yelling or bullying of any kind and crisis prevention institute (CPI) is the absolute last resort that is only used when unquestionably necessary (preventing a kid from harming themselves or another kid). They make sure their girls stay very busy with events and recreational activities so they are able to make positive memories, experience fun and exciting new things that children should have the opportunity to enjoy, and also feel rewarded for good behaviors throughout the week. Each caregiver makes homemade nutritiously balanced meals for the kids when they are home from school and there is always plenty for second helpings (which most of the kids ask for). They always celebrate birthdays and holidays with cake, presents, outings to the park, BBQ, trips to the beach, the movies, and so much more! When the weather isn’t so great the girls may instead go to a museum, the library, or just stay in a have a movie night in the bean bag room with popcorn. They make sure to integrate these fun events with life skills and educational activities.
Some of these children had to grow up fast due to the toxic or neglectful environments they came from and haven’t ever really had the opportunity to enjoy just being a kid so we they strive to make sure the last thing they have to worry about is growing up too fast.
One girl in particular came to the Treehouse Center when she was 11 years old. She originally came from a broken home with deplorable living conditions where she suffered a heartbreaking amount of abuse and neglect. She came to them from a more restrictive placement that was unable to manage her lengthy meltdowns and extreme behaviors. When she initially arrived, she was unable to stay in a classroom for almost any length of time whereas now not only is she able to focus in school, but she is also currently a straight A student who receives praise from her teachers and Student’s Achieving Excellence awards. She successfully completed our program and is going on to be adopted to a forever home.
The Treehouse Center could not be more proud of the amount of positive discharges they have seen over time. They have had the privilege to witness some of our kids leave and proceed to graduate, get married, have kids, and have real families of their own. The Treehouse Center staff loves staying in touch with all the girls in their care after they leave.
“There seems to be a huge misunderstanding about children of all ages in foster care or kids who are “in the system” and that is that these children are bad. I despise hearing the mis-used phrase “bad kids”. Correction, these kids are not bad; they have had bad things happen to them, they have bad behaviors, they’ve had bad examples to follow. The reason group homes, RTCs, therapeutic foster homes, etc., even exist in the first place is to take in children who need help and direction. We work to create new GOOD memories, our staff are trained to re-direct behaviors, and they are positive influences who teach the girls life skills they will need as they begin to age out of the foster care system. I believe sometimes people have this common misconception about who we are and what we do when it comes to our kids and how we operate. I encourage everyone to learn more about foster care, group homes, and RTC’s to have a better understanding of our mission, our goals, and our passion when it comes to these children.”
The Ark Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter for Youth is the only facility within an 80-mile radius licensed and contracted by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (TX HHSC) to provide assessment services and emergency shelter for 61 children and youth, ages 0 through 17. Many of the youth served at The Ark were removed from their homes after investigators determined their lives were in danger due to child abuse, physical abuse or neglect by a parent or guardian.
The shelter has served nearly 4,000 children since admitting its first resident on April 7, 2000. The record for the largest number of siblings ever cared for from a single family is 13. Although the facility may care for minors from anywhere in Texas, the geographic area impacted the most by it are 19 counties in the southern part of the state. Their average age is 2.5 years. The youngest newborns upon admittance have been just 1 day old. The average number of diapers changed in a 24-hour period exceeds 312. The frequency of diaper changes can be increased from hourly to every 15 minutes in cases of severe diaper rash.
The Ark provides a caring intervention for children and youth by placing them in a secure environment. During a period of up to 90 consecutive days, they are taken from being traumatized due to abuse/neglect to being evaluated and assessed by medical doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, counselors and other trained professionals to prompt improvements in their outlook on life and for placement in an appropriate long-term site where their needs can be met, such as a foster home, residential treatment center, therapeutic treatment center or basic child-care institution.
All the children’s needs are met while living at The Ark. The residents are treated as a family and provided with childcare by a nurturing, trained staff with absolute respect and unconditional love. The children receive nutritious meals/snacks, haircuts, transportation to outings and appointments, pull-ups, wipes and everything else needed for their well-being.
We help children by meeting their physical, academic and emotional needs.
When the children arrive, the employees ensure that the children have enough clothes in good condition and in the correct sizes. New shoes are given to the residents, and they get to keep them. We take children to the doctor as soon as we see something wrong with them or they complain about pain, etc. The staff follows up with any course of action recommended by the doctor. Each minor is given a complete medical, dental and vision examination. Medical treatment is received, including any prescribed medications.
Children are transported to a local school if they are old enough to attend it, even if we don’t know how long they’ll be with us and can be home-schooled. We believe it’s better for them to be with other children and to have a school teacher. We assist them with homework, uniforms and school supplies. The students participate in all the school’s activities, including wearing special clothing on designated days.
As the shelter’s staff works with the residents in a compassionate manner, a transformation begins to take place in these victims. The education and training they receive contribute toward healthy childhood development. Positive changes occur in their lives, allowing them to gain a sense of dignity and self-worth.
When The Ark first opened its doors, minors leaving the shelter tended to stay a short duration at a site before being placed elsewhere. Now when residents arrive at The Ark, they are asked how they feel in general and about the shelter, as well as other matters. The extra time getting acquainted with the residents has proved to be productive. The staff works very closely with the state agency’s workers and shares that information with them. Consequently, the children and youth benefit from placements that better suit their needs.
Thanks to The Ark’s existence, Child Protective Services can work with families to try to reunite them with the children under our care.
409 West 13th StreetAustin, Texas 78701
T: (512) 892-2683 F: (512) 892-6977