Bell County: Nonprofit Helps Youth at Risk

By: Rachel Cox Email
By: Rachel Cox Email

BELL COUNTY (March 18, 2013)--A local nonprofit running the only emergency shelter in Central Texas is doing more to help teens at risk make it in the real world.

Every year almost 200 teens and children end up in Option House after being removed from an abusive home by state agencies or because they've run away from home.

Located in Killeen, it's the only emergency shelter serving youth at risk in the area and is run by Central Texas Youth Services.

"It's a huge need we really need to open one in Waco, we've needed to open one in Waco for years and it's just that all of our services are very expensive, all of our services are free," Central Texas Youth Services Director Keith Wallace said.

Once teens show up at the shelter they're required to give a name and the staff works to find a family member to contact.

After that if a relative is not located the nonprofit has to notify police within 72 hours about the youth.

But after leaving the shelter and foster homes many teens still need help developing life skills, that issue is one that the Central Texas Youth Services transitional programs tackle.

21-year-old Katilynn Jarma was one of those teens who had nowhere to go when she turned 18 and was forced to leave her foster home.

A case manager at Central Texas Youth Services helped her stay on track to keep a full-time job and continue with college classes.

"They gave me bus fare and if I needed food they were there, if something needed paying they would try to help stuff like that," Jarma said.

Because of this outreach from the group Jarma says she wants to help other teens facing the same challenges she once did.

i know how they feel and where they're coming from and seen it all now if i can get through it i can get them through it," Jarma said.

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