Despite Storm’s Impact, Community Groups Take Extraordinary Steps to Meet Needs of Vulnerable Kids
Prolonged shortages of electricity and water are having a profound impact on organizations across Texas that serve children and family who suffer from abuse, neglect, domestic violence, homelessness, substance use disorders and more. Organizations have faced lengthy power outages, busted pipes, water shortages and dwindling food supplies.
In the face of these challenges, child-serving organizations continue to take extraordinary and creative steps to meet the needs of vulnerable kids. Fortunately, many community partners — from churches to restaurants to volunteers — have stepped up to provide assistance and critical resources to help vulnerable children, youth and families, as well as the staff who serve them.
“Kids often come into the child welfare system after experiencing severe trauma, and the pandemic has compounded that trauma by further isolating kids and taking away many of their normal activities and routines,” said Katie Olse, CEO of the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, a statewide network of organizations that provide a continuum of child-welfare services, from foster care to emergency shelter to adoption services. “This week, the challenges facing Texas kids have continued to mount. Fortunately, the organizations that serve these kids are used to working through many challenges and are going to extraordinary lengths to meet their basic needs. We understand that kids need us. Still, like so many Texans, child-welfare professionals never expected they would face such critical and life-threatening conditions.”
Child-serving organizations throughout Texas have been impacted in a variety of ways:
Residential facilities for vulnerable kids have gone days without power and are experiencing bursts in pipes and other water infrastructure.
Groups of children have been moved from one facility to another to minimize the amount of time they spend sleeping without heat.
Businesses have delivered food, clothes and other supplies as organizations cope with dwindling food supplies.
One organization in the Austin area reserved hotel rooms last weekend so that kids would have a place to go in emergency conditions such as those that followed.
A church in Abilene opened its doors to eight children, plus staff, from a child-serving organization that lost power and water.
Staff have slept at child-serving facilities to ensure poor driving conditions do not prevent them from getting to work.
Volunteers and groups looking to help child-serving organizations are encouraged to reach out to TACFS staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our winter storm relief page.
“Organizations serving vulnerable kids have lost basic necessities,” Olse said. “It’s a frightening time for kids who have already experienced trauma and the adults who are committed to caring for them. While we recognize millions of Texans are suffering right now, we ask that those who are in a position to help consider donating resources, food or supplies to child-serving organizations in your community.”