WACO, Texas — The Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network with its Klaras Center for Families announced an award of $1.1 million granted by Texas health officials.
The money will go towards the Chase House Facility, which has served as a safe space for Waco teenagers since 2019.
"We are a facility they can come to and get a break in a safe place, get some services and have a place to kind of decompress and talk to professionals and return home safely," said Jessica Jimenez-Muhammad, a mental health professional who works with the teens.
Staff says having a safe space for young people going through a hard time can give them a mental health break and prevent a situation from escalating to one much worse.
"With respite, they can get a needed break from whatever is going on and keep them out of detention or the hospital," Program Director Kelli Guerrero said. "It's just a better way to bridge the gap between intensive services."
The program is now getting a chance to expand with the new grant and a generous donation from the Chase family. The house currently has room for nine, but will now be able to add an extra room and three more beds.
"When you add additional beds, you need additional staff," Guerrero said. "It's going to allow us to hire staff. We will also get to purchase, we've had to lease a van for transportation but we're going to be able to actually purchase a van now and an additional vehicle."
The grant money will also go towards a new gym and other indoor activities clients can utilize during hot summer days.
"The expansion and extra bedroom overall is going to be super beneficial because not only we will have a few extra beds to work with but also because we are going to have a few other rooms to expand," Jimenez-Muhammad said.