WACO, Texas — The Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network's Klaras Center for Families is set to continue the operation of its Hope Shelter program thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Office of the Governor.
The Hope Shelter provides emergency services to sex trafficking victims ages 13 to 17.
Services at the shelter include housing, food, mental health counseling and transition support.
Ron Kimbell, division director for the Klaras Center for Families, said the organization opened the shelter about a year ago and has since helped multiple teens transition into life after trafficking.
"Located where we are on the I-35 corridor, between Houston, Dallas, Austin, all of it—there is an awful lot of trafficking that takes place in our area, and not everyone is aware of it," Kimbell said.
The Hope Shelter program works with local law enforcement and other community organization to take in victims and provide them with a range of short-term resources.
"It is hugely important for our children who have had such a traumatic experience to have a safe place," Kimbell said. "A place that is accepting, inclusive and trauma-informed."
The Klaras Center for Families provides services in the Heart of Texas region, which includes Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Limestone and McLennan Counties.