Bell County’s Child Protective Services says they are struggling to find places to put children removed from their parents.
Data from the past three years shows more than 60 percent of children in foster care had to be moved outside of the county because of the placement shortage.
A nearly 100-year-old Salado church is being renovated into a safe-haven for foster children in Bell County.
“Sibling groups are being separated. Children are sleeping in CPS offices. So basically, those are the little problems we want to tackle,” says Garden of Hope founder Wilfredo Ocasio.
170 of the 300 children in Bell County’s foster care system were forced to move far away from their families last year.
The Garden of Hope Emergency Foster Care Center is opening up hopes to ease the problem.
“It’s very important for children to have a safe, loving and nurturing home to be in versus just being put somewhere,” says Event Coordinator Serina Jones.
The 4,000-square foot building will feature a kitchen and dining area, library, game room, five bedrooms and much more. The whole facility will house 20 children in total.
“We’re going to supply all their needs. They’re going to be taken to school, they’re going to be fed, they’re going to have access to clothing,” Ocasio said.
There is still a lot to be done before this can happen. Ocasio and Jones are relying solely on donations to construct and fund the project. They will need about $40,000 to finish the facility by June 1, helping foster kids stay here.
“So they don’t feel the traumatic experience. It’s already traumatic enough, but then when you’re having to leave and go to a place totally unknown, that’s the biggest thing,” Jones said.
The Garden of Hope is inviting the public to it’s construction day this Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Volunteers will have the chance to paint walls, lay tile and give donations.