Men's Breakfast Report, June 2012
The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, June 9 with Sylvia Crane as featured guest. Sylvia has been director of the Brazoria County Youth Home in Oyster Creek. Sylvia got started in this profession by working with a nun in Las Vegas who ran a youth facility. She was the director for about a year, lives in Brazoria and likes Brazoria County enough to want to stay here.
The youth home was started by Judge Kenyon because children were being left without guardians when their parents had run afoul of the law. It originally was located in the old Dow Hospital in Freeport. Citizens organized to set up the facility, a site was acquired in Oyster Creek, and cottages built for housing the children. About ten years ago, because the youth home was unable to acquire a suitable director, the Brazoria County organization was merged with the corresponding Galveston organization which runs youth homes and other service facilities. Since that time the youth home has gone through nine directors.
The youth home is funded by donations and through the United Way. However, the primary source of funding has been the per diem fees from Texas Children Protective Services. Changes in state policies have caused changes in the type of children that the Youth home serves. Twenty years ago, Becka Ryder was rescued by the youth home and stayed there as an early teenager. Now CPS tries to put children into family situations. The first choice is a related family such as grandparent or aunt. If this is not possible, they put the child with a foster parent. Therefore very few younger children come to the Youth Home. The clients are older teenagers who often have been rejected by other families. Since CPS provides the residents they can come from throughout the state, and only three of the children were from Brazoria County when the facility was closed.
Last year a fire occurred at one of the cottages at the Youth Home, making it unusable. This meant that they could not accommodate as many children, and a large reduction in income. Insurance paid for repair of the cottage but it was not yet in use. A significant portion of the income goes to Galveston to pay for overhead such as insurance. The local board of the Youth Home sponsored a Bunny-Hop fund raiser last year to help balance the budget. However, the Galveston board, which controls the facility since the merger, decided to close the Home. The children were sent to facilities throughout the state, with a couple of children being put into local foster homes so they could complete their education at Brazosport High School.
There has been a problem with children aging out of CPS at age eighteen but not being able to function in society. These people have never had a long continuous home life and have not learned some life skills. Some of them are living with mentors. Jonathan Sublet has taken in one young man but other mentors are needed.
There is a movement for local people to take over the Youth Home from Galveston. However, the merger transferred the property to Galveston, and Galveston may not want to give up land that could be sold to help with their budget.
There is still a large need for child care for children whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for them properly. The extent of the backpack program is an indication of this. A return of county youth home to Brazoria County and local control and funding would be a help with this need.
As usual, the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be July 14th.