GUADALUPE COUNTY, Texas – A foster-to-adoption agency is preparing to open Guadalupe County's first emergency shelter for foster children.
Provided it gets its license from the state, TruLight127 Ministries hopes to begin taking in children at the TruLight Youth Village by February. The two buildings would be able to accommodate up to 18 children ages 5 and older for both short- and long-term stays.
Once it begins operating, TruLight127 Ministries CEO Sondra Ajasin said the shelter will be ready to take in children when they are removed from emergency situations so they aren't waiting around in cars or sleeping in Child Protective Services offices.
"We will be on staff and on-call 24/7, hoping to prevent any of those situations out here," Ajasin said.
The two buildings on the 10-acre plot of land are set up like any normal house, and are meant to feel like more than just a shelter.
"We purposely bought a place that had a home, so it could be a home," Ajasin said.
The agency still has plans to expand as the funds become available, ultimately hoping for 10 buildings in all.
"We want to work on our teen buildings next, and then we want to work on a rec center," Ajasin said.
It's a big dream, but it's also a big problem.
"The fact is that Texas just doesn't have enough places for these kids to go. Otherwise we wouldn't have kids sleeping in CPS offices," Ajasin said.
Beyond keeping kids from spending the night on a cot in a CPS office, Ajasin said the shelter could keep local kids from being sent elsewhere in the state where there is space for them.
"If we're trying to fix the family unit, and your kids gets put in a home four hours from here, how are you supposed to keep that bond? How are you supposed to keep creating that bond? You can't," she said.
While she has high hopes for TruLight Youth Village, Ajasin said everyone has a role in helping the children who pass through.
"We can do all kinds of things ourselves, but if the community doesn't wrap around these children, we're still looking at a cycle of abuse," she said. "They have to know that they can break that cycle."