DRIFTWOOD, Texas — A boy’s childhood should be filled with Lego’s, sports and love. But, sadly, that is not always the case.
“Some of the neglect has been so horrendous, to where these kids are going in garbage trying to find food for the next day, that is what some of the kids come here with,” said Steve Fournier, the executive director of The Burke Center for Youth.
But at The Burke Center for Youth residential treatment center in Driftwood, boys 11 to 17 years old in the foster care system get a place to heal and a place to grow.
They have all kinds of activities, including music lessons, equine therapy, an auto shop and more.
“The volunteer for guitar comes Tuesdays and Friday, the volunteer for auto shop comes on Tuesday, we have Wednesday culinary arts,” said Fournier.
The boys who come to the center need a little extra care, as many have run into issues at foster homes or ended up in juvenile detention.
“A lot of time it is because of things that have been way in their past and it just hasn’t been dealt with, because they haven’t had the right placement or therapy, so they come here to us,” says Fournier.
Right now, 21 boys live on the property, but soon they will able to house 30. This is because they are about to open their new $3.2 million dorm. Many boys are already looking forward to the new rooms. The dorm has a dining area, two different wings, and will have all sort of games and high-tech security systems. Currently, there are four boys to each room. Once the new dorm is built, each boy will get their own room. This is the first boys dorm in the state that gives each child their own bedroom.
The latest Texas Department of Family and Protective Services numbers at the end of May 2021, show that statewide there were 16,308 children in foster care in Texas. In Region 7, which includes 30 counties throughout Central Texas, there were 2,272 children in foster care. Of those, 511 were in Travis County and 153 were in Hays County.
These high numbers of kids in need of a home show the need for a safe place for these kids. But Fournier said the number one thing these kids need is hope.
“Just because something bad happened to you, doesn’t mean you are a bad person, or that other bad things are going to happen to you,” said Fournier. “You have the ability to do anything you want to do.”
Fournier said that the biggest way you can make an impact is by fostering or adopting. He said the state is in dire need of foster families.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said they are always recruiting foster and adoptive families. They host virtual information meetings each month where families can learn more about the process and how to take the next steps toward becoming a foster or adoptive family. If you are interested in attending a meeting, you can get more information by clicking here.
The meetings come with no obligation, so they encourage anyone who thinks they may be interested to attend. You can also learn more about foster and adoption at adoptchildren.org.