What We Do
ACS provides emergency shelter for children birth to age 18. Most have been referred through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services because they have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment or neglect. Many of the youth in emergency shelter are adolescents that have experienced multiple disrupted foster family placements. Some enter emergency shelter in preparation for entering the transitional living program. Each youth is provided with high quality care and critical services including individual and group therapy; medical, vision, dental, psychiatric and behavioral health care; and educational assistance.
Transitional Living Program
Youth and young adults are provided with safe housing and the assistance to learn the skills necessary to make the transition to independent living. The majority of our TLP clients are young people who have been in the foster care system long-term and have chosen to remain in, or return to, foster care, recognizing they need additional preparation for independent living. Our staff help youth identify available resources and provide training on basic life skills like how to rent an apartment, open a checking account, interview for a job, shop economically for healthy food, and more. Youth live in the long-term residential cottage on the ACS campus and are generally between the ages of 17 and 21. They must also be enrolled in school or vocational training.
Teen Parent Program
The Teen Parent Program is provided for young parents that are currently in the foster care system with their children as well as young parents with their children that are deemed to be at high risk for abuse. Primarily moms, with their children, live in a cottage on the ACS campus for as long as several years. Our goal is to teach positive parenting skills to break the cycle of abuse and neglect while also supporting the attainment of developmental milestones for the children and education and vocational goals for the parent.
ACS provides temporary, non-routine relief for parents and legal guardians of children. This service is primarily provided for children with emotional or developmental disabilities through a contract with Integral Care but may be made available for families by referral through partner agencies and Child Protective Services
Foster Family Services
ACS has recently been licensed as a Child Placing Agency. In that role ACS will recruit, train, and support foster families. These families will receive children both directly from Child Protective Services as well as from children who have been at ACS itself. By training and supporting foster families ACS will be able to strengthen the most significant connection in the foster care system: the relationship between foster families and the children they foster. In its role as a Child Placing Agency ACS will enhance the whole continuum of care for the children with whom we work and vastly improve the chances of a successful transition from agency to foster home.
(In process- through a merger with the existing Strong Start program) – Strong Start is a child abuse prevention program designed to provide parents with the skills and resources needed to safely raise their children. Families with children between the ages of 0-5, who have factors that make them more vulnerable to abuse and neglect such as unemployment, a history of abuse in the family, mental health issues, substance abuse, or other stressors, may voluntarily enter the program or be referred through a partner agency. Through a combination of services, including a therapeutic early childhood program, in-home parent coaching, parenting classes, support groups, mental health, and basic needs assistance, Strong Start teaches parents effective, non-violent parenting techniques while enhancing child social emotional development and decreasing challenging child behaviors.
Child Development and Family Support Center
(In process) – This comprehensive project will combine high-quality early childhood education with essential parent coaching and support. Designed primarily to support families reported to Child Protective Services before a removal is necessary, the program will build skills to keep families safely intact. Using an inclusion model to create an enriched learning environment for children, the program will also serve ACS staff members, children residing in the shelter and children from the surrounding community. The program will include full-time child care for children ages 3 months to five with a curriculum that focuses on the foundational early literacy components of: physical and motor development; social and emotional development; language and communication; and cognitive development. Parents in the program have access to parenting classes, support groups, and in-home parent coaching to increase positive parenting, enhance parenting knowledge and skills, and decrease harsh discipline practices. Aspects of the Strong Start curriculum will be incorporated into the Child Development and Family Support Center.