LUBBOCK, Texas — In March, Saint Francis Ministries took over management of family service cases from Child Protective Services in the Lubbock area. Saint Francis Ministries Vice President of Family Services Christian Garcia said they have seen a decrease in the number of children in the system.
However, there has been a noticeable shift in the age ranges of children in need of their services from younger children to teenagers. A common trend is those who were adopted or reunited with families are now returning to the system. Garcia said they are teaming up with other organizations in Lubbock to expand family outreach programs to help address the growing need.
“What we see a lot of these kids that were adopted when they were two or 3 years old, are now being returned to the system because of the lack of lack of support or lack of resources,” Garcia said. “Which is something that we’re working really hard to tackle at this point.”
Garcia said they’re working closely with nonprofits in the area to create additional aid and services to support children entering into the system along with the families who may be struggling to keep themselves financially afloat. Garcia said the growing pressures of inflation combined with limited resources for parents of teens may be leading to those who were adopted being returned into the system.
Children Home of Lubbock’s Vice President of Children Services Vickie Russell said they are working with Saint Francis Ministries. She has also seen the growing need for more resources for teens who have had to bounce around the system.
“Particularly in this region, they’re not enough resources for some of these teens that are coming to us with a lot of needs,” Russell said. “The teenagers that are coming to us now have multi diagnoses …They have educational needs … Mental health needs, emotional needs. They have a lot of medical needs that haven’t been addressed. So, it’s such a complex issue. This region doesn’t have enough facilities to care for these children, they would more likely these older children be placed out of region. A lot of times in South Texas, Houston, and in the southern parts of Texas, or out of the state.”
Other nonprofits in the area that are also working to expand family and youth support includes Lubbock Impact. Lubbock Impact Executive Director Becky Robinson said many people might not realize how important it is for families to know where to find resources and help when they need it.
“So when St. Francis came to us asking about our partnership, and if we’d be willing to support them as they were doing CPS visits and encouraging families, it was an immediate yes for us,” Robinson said. “And the reason for that is because we wanted to make sure that children and families have the support system that they need, that’s what we’re all about at Lubbock impact cares for people and making sure they have the resources, they need to be successful.”