“Not since The Great Depression have so many people been homeless, and 70-80% of the homeless right now are children.”
So said Diane Beagle, Chairman of the Blanco County Child Protection & Family Advocacy Board, as she reported during a meeting of the Blanco County Child Protection & Family Advocacy Board about what she has recently learned.
Statistics for neglected, abused, and homeless children are alarming, Beagle said. Over 900,000 children in the US are in foster care; Texas ranks #5 in homeless children in the US; and Texas ranks only #49 for children graduating or receiving their GED. Children moved constantly rank higher on the scale for Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) than do soldiers returning home from Iraq.
“These statistics are horrendous,” said Beagle “and we must do everything we can possibly do to get this turned around now.”
During April’s meeting, the Advocacy Board discussed how it can best work to help stabilize county families, seeing seemingly endless opportunities to help: keeping utilities turned on, sending children to needed tutoring programs, working to keep families together, continually being part of efforts to protect the rights of children, providing clothing and shoes, and much more.
“I am reminded how we responded to recent needs of families and I am re-energized to motivate us to continue this help,” said Beagle.
Wendy Smith asked the Board to consider being part of the Blanco community effort for the Vargas family. “They need our financial help toward their on-going health care expenses for their daughter, Marissa,” Smith explained. After discussion, the Board voted unanimously to donate $500 “to go toward their extraordinary burden and expenses,” as stated by Bill Swiss, Co-Chairman.
Swiss reported that he is available to speak at anytime to “any church or civic organization within Blanco or Hays County about how their members can be part of efforts to stabilize families and create a more promising future for children.”
Banners have been raised in Blanco and in Johnson City to remind citizens that April is “Prevent Child Abuse Month” in the county and April 27th is “Blue Sunday”, created to unify communities to get involved in the efforts to help children who have endured abuse or neglect.
April’s meeting included the presentation of a $1000 donation from the Johnson City Garden Club to the Child & Family Advocacy Board, as well as a check for $300 from Hochheim Prairie Home Mutual, a repeat from last year. Swiss reported that ytd over $5200 have been received by the Board from individuals and community members within Johnson City, Blanco, Austin, and Dripping Springs to help Blanco County community children and families. The Board is very appreciative of Debbie Elsburg’s efforts at the County Courthouse and all the monies donated by the jury.
The Board began its ongoing children’s enrichment program by setting aside the funds to send children in the proprietorship program to summer camp and activities. Swiss said this could be anything from a church or sports camp to an arts/music activity.
Meeting times have changed from noon to 6:00pm, and the Board will provide babysitting for any members as requested. The next meeting will be May 15th in Wesley Hall at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City. All interested community members are invited to attend.