Guadalupe County's first-ever emergency shelter opens for abused, neglected children
Local nonprofit responds to what they call a state and local child abuse crisis
GUADALUPE COUNTY, Texas – The very first emergency children's shelter in Guadalupe County is now open, taking in children since early October.
The shelter was essential because of the state and local child abuse crisis.
A nonprofit called Trulight127 originally just provided supportive services to families who foster or adopt children removed from their homes.
Now, they've expanded, providing a safe, comfortable place for children to stay while their cases get sorted out.
Trulight127's CEO, Sondra Ajasin, walked through one of the two shelter houses, showing how much the space truly looks like a home.
Toys and books were piled in each corner of the room, cereal and snacks lined the fridge, colorful bedspreads covered each bed, and rows of clothes hung in every closet.
"In June of 2016, we got our contract with the state and started placing kids in licensed foster and adoptive homes. Since then, we've placed over 400 kids into homes and adopted out 120 of those kiddos," Ajasin said.
She has roughly 80 local licensed foster families ready to take in children, but said that isn't enough for the constant flow of emergency cases.
"We get kids sometimes just within hours of removal," she said. "We just got a group of four siblings that came in around midnight. They were all crying and traumatized. It's so hard for them."
Some children can be placed with families immediately, but others have to wait.
Ajasin was sick of watching children go to state centers to sleep on cots, so about a year ago, she and her team began a boys; home and a girls' home on their 10-acre property in Seguin.
They call the shelter, "Youth Village," which sits next to an administration and training center, as well as a big playground and sandbox.
"I want it to feel like a home. We are an emergency shelter, but we also have full time beds, which I think gives them some peace of mind that it's not going to be three months here, then three months somewhere else again," Ajasin said.
The Youth Village is able to house children ages 0 to 17. Right now in the girls house there are eight kids and the boys house has seven.
"Those kids could end up in Austin, they can end up in Dallas, they've ended up in El Paso and Houston. The closer we can keep them to home, the better normalcy is to them and keeping their siblings together is easier," Ajasin said.
Trulight127 partners with agencies who provide counseling and medical care to the children so they can heal not only physically, but also emotionally.
Ajasin's dream is to add a recreational center where kids can play, take classes, play music, and even cook. She also wants to have a basketball court on the property.
She is also constantly licensing new foster and adoptive families.
Trulight127's next informational meeting is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Discovery Church in Cibolo.
To report abuse, call (800) 252-5400.
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