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'About half the beds are filled with children': More resources needed for Central Texas children's shelters

“The staff love me and care for me and protect me.”
Posted: 6:23 PM, Mar 14, 2024
Updated: 2024-03-14 23:47:48-04
Emergency children crisis chelters

KILLEEN, Texas — More and more resources are needed for Texas children in crisis.

This child was not safe at home and was taken to a shelter.

She explained to me her home life and said, "Umm... just difficult stuff, being difficult at home.”

We’re not identifying her because of her age and her situation.

She told me she was taken to Peace of Mind Emergency Shelter in Killeen by Child Protective Services.

This is her second time calling the shelter home.

She said, “Just being able to know that I’m safe and that the staff love me and care for me and protect me.”

Tina Carroll is founder of Peace of Mind Emergency Shelter.

She’s been helping children for years and it comes from a deep place in her own life.

“I have relatives that were in the foster care system and just seeing kinda what they went through, being removed from the home and then separated," she told me.

But she’s concerned the shelter may not always be around to help children in need. She told me around 60% of their support comes from the state.

Carroll said it’s hard to pay for half of their monthly costs and that’s raising some serious concerns if they don’t get the additional funding they need.

“We will probably be forced to shut down unfortunately.”

She told me it's hard for them to take children right now and she added, "We actually had two placement requests last night that we couldn’t take.”

A spokesperson with the Texas Department of Family Protective Services sent me a statement and said in part:

"The goal is to place children in a home setting close to their own community. If that’s not possible, children are placed in placements that provide varying levels of care in group settings – like emergency shelters. In January 2024, about 336 children statewide were placed in emergency shelters."

"It’s important that children have access to services in their own home communities, so an array of placement options is always needed."

Just this month, a Texas Tribune report highlighted a great need across Texas for more support for child services, especially as birth rates rise and the recent overturn of the decades old controversial abortion case Roe vs. Wade.

Suzanne Armour is Executive Director of Families in Crisis in Killeen.

She told me, “If you were to walk through one of our domestic violence shelters, you’d see that about half the beds are filed children.”

Last year they helped 477 children across their domestic violence and homeless shelters.

That’s a drop from the 569 children in 2022.

“We are seeing less children this year. A possible reason for that could be that we have many more housing opportunities for survivors then we previously did and what that means is less people are possibly having to return to shelters which does happen." she said.

Both shelters accept donations.

Suzanne told me they are accepting donations like toiletries, hygiene items, clothes, arts supplies, board games, diapers and especially larger diapers for toddlers.