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Local shelter answering Governor's call to fix foster bed shortage

Local shelter answering Governor's call to fix foster bed shortage

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Governor’s office is stepping in to fix a critical shortage of foster beds.

Last month, a staggering 65 foster children across the state spent more than one night sleeping in a state office or motel.

Now, a local shelter for homeless and at-risk youth is answering the Governor’s call for help.

“It’s pretty hard, for some kids,” says a 15-year-old foster child we’re calling Sabrina. "One thing I don't like about the system is: my parents, they have done wrong, but I still want to be with them."

She’s run away twice to see her parents. Both times, she asked to come back to The Bridge shelter run by Roy Maas Youth Alternatives.

"They're just here to help us and protect us and keep us safe,” Sabrina says.

Now the Governor’s office has asked Roy Maas to help even more foster kids.

Shelter leaders are transforming The Bridge to add up to 20 new beds for foster kids by next fall, and they desperately need the community to get involved.

"We need staff who are not just willing to work with kids but staff that understand that when kids are responding to their trauma, there are going to be difficulties,” says shelter director Bill Wilkinson.

He’s looking for qualified caseworkers and therapists who want to help vulnerable kids.

"We're looking for young people who want to make a difference in the world, want to improve the life of another young person and really want to sink their teeth into an important mission,” Wilkinson says.

He says if the foster bed shortage is left unaddressed, it will impact the community for years to come.

"These are folks who are likely to remain chronically unemployed, might succumb to substance abuse, to petty crime,” Wilkinson says. "They've already been victimized by abusive parents. We don't want to rev-victimize them by not giving them sufficient hope."

And even after all she’s been through, Sabrina truly does have hope.

"I want to go to college and become a surgeon or a lawyer,” she says.

The real root of the problem, though: we do need more foster homes.

If you’d like to volunteer, call the state’s Foster Parent Recruitment Inquiry line at (210) 337-3117 or click here to learn what it takes to become a foster parent.

By EMILY BAUCUM

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