Texas Boys Ranch Emergency Shelter at full capacity due to lack

Texas Boys Ranch Emergency Shelter at full capacity due to lack of available foster homes

Posted: Updated:
Children at the emergency shelter play outside Children at the emergency shelter play outside
A girl's room at the emergency shelter A girl's room at the emergency shelter
Permanent resident housedog Bella Permanent resident housedog Bella
Program Director Kaylee Hendriex Program Director Kaylee Hendriex
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Texas Boys Ranch opened the emergency shelter in 2015. Since that time, the off-site emergency shelter has served 265 children, and 55 just this year.

This facility can be a safe haven any time day or night when the unthinkable happens.

"We have a lot of different cases. We have everything from physical abuse to neglect to parental drug use, so our kids come in all shapes. A lot of them come in the clothing on their back and that's it."

Program Director Kaylee Hendriex said the foster crisis is great in Lubbock.

"There's hardly any foster homes. I got a phone call this weekend because I do on-call for the ranch and there was a two and a four-year-old that were placed in El Paso due to the fact that we didn't have any homes. There was another sibling group of three, one of them being a newborn that were having to be placed out of region because we don't have any capacity here."

The shelter has 16 beds. With 15 currently occupied, the facility is nearing capacity. Hendriex said that's not ideal. The shelter is a holding area for children CPS removes from their homes. The kids stay here until a foster home or other safe place is found.

"We can hold up to 16 kids. We prefer to keep those numbers down during the summer since we're always busy going and doing. This summer, we have not been able to do that. We are at 15 kids and we will probably stay there. Our goal is to either put them out at the boys ranch or put them in a foster home. The shelter is a last resort."

She said it's a last resort because the maximum time a child can stay at the shelter is only 90 days.

"The goal for CPS is to find them the least restrictive environment and so the least restrictive environment would be a foster home and then the more restrictive environment would be the shelter. They try to find them as home like environment as possible and so their goal is to place them either in a foster home or some kind of kinship care and then the last resort is the shelter just due to the fact that we don't have house parents here. We have people that work shifts and rotate in and out all the time. We have kids coming in and out, and it's just not a very home like environment."

Hendriex said her staff is the reason the shelter stays afloat. 

"They bond with the kids and they know that they're leaving in 90 days but they still allow themselves to attach to these kiddos and take care of them and provide what they need."

These children come from many different backgrounds and the staff tries to make the transition as comfortable as possible.

"There's always a lot of crying when they get here. We kind of try and warm them up, we have a dog, Bella, and she greets them. We try to make it as home-like environment as we can and we're sad when they leave us but we know that they're either hopefully going to a foster home or back with their parents." 

Not all Lubbock-area children are able to come to either the Texas Boys Ranch or the emergency shelter.

"Currently, we are only able to keep around 60 percent of the kids that are removed from this area in this area. So that makes it really hard on the parents, really hard on the kids, and it would be a lot better if we could find foster homes in order to keep these kids local."

Hendriex said the underlying reason for the Ranch and for the emergency shelter is the lack of foster homes available.

"The foster home crisis in Lubbock is unreal. We are sending little ones out to Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, and they deserve to stay in a home with a mom and a dad that will take care of them. Not everybody can be a foster parent, and we are not all called to do the same thing, but we are called to do something. If you are not a person that wants these kiddos in your home, support the people that are taking care of these kids."

She said she and her staff try to make the shelter a home.

"We do the best while we can. It's sad that we do have to have this shelter due to the fact that we don't have enough foster homes but that's just the reality of the situation and we will continue to stay full until that crisis ends."

While all staff positions are currently filled, the emergency shelter has volunteer opportunities available. Hendriex said if you'd like to donate school supplies, hygiene products, clothes, and suitcases, the shelter staff would gladly accept them. You can also cook meals for the kids and staff members. For more info, visit this website and specify that you'd like to volunteer for the emergency shelter.

Powered by Frankly