Month: May 2024

DePelchin breaks ground on Junior League Volunteer Services Building

DePelchin Children’s Center broke ground on its new Junior League of Houston Volunteer Services Building on Wednesday, May 22. The ground-breaking represents a major step forward in DePelchin’s service to children and families in the Houston area.


With a grand opening expected in 2025, the new two-story building will quadruple DePelchin’s capacity to provide donated goods to support families and children in need. The building — which will be on the DePelchin campus at 4950 Memorial Drive in Houston — will also expand DePelchin’s family classroom and volunteer workroom space, creating more room for programs that serve children and families.


DePelchin raised $8 million to construct the new facility through its Big Hearts, Bright Futures capital campaign. The Junior League of Houston helped launch that campaign last year with its Centennial Gift of $2 million, the largest single gift in the Junior League of Houston’s history.


“We are excited to begin construction on this building so that we can have a greater capacity to serve children and families,” said Jenifer Jarriel, DePelchin’s Board President and CEO. “We are grateful for our longstanding partnership with the Junior League of Houston, which generously chose to support DePelchin with its Centennial Gift. We also appreciate all of the supporters who have contributed to this new space.”


Putting a spotlight on the mental health of children and youth

Mental health disorders among children and youth have been on the increase since before the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also a nationwide shortage of providers who can meet the mental health needs of children and youth. At DePelchin — during May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, and throughout the year — we are working to serve more children by offering counseling services for children and youth in a variety of settings.


One in three Texas children experience a mental health disorder in a given year, according to the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. While the pandemic increased mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, the National Institutes of Health report that such conditions were on the increase among young people across the country in the years before the pandemic.


A lack of mental health providers exacerbates these challenges. According to the American Psychological Association, a major challenge is the lack of providers who can meet the mental health needs of children and youth.


DePelchin clinicians provide evidence-based counseling services in office settings and virtually. DePelchin clinicians also work in schools that do not have the staff available to provide mental health services. In 2023, DePelchin provided 18,700 counseling and therapeutic sessions.


“We provide counseling to the entire spectrum of problems, from families who have minor issues and conflict all the way to severe trauma,” said Dr. Charity Eames, DePelchin’s Director of Clinical Services. “We work with families who are intact, but also families experiencing a child placed outside the home.”


Over the past year, DePelchin has added 18 counselors to expand the number of children and families who can be served.


“Most of DePelchin’s programs are considered short-term counseling. We aren’t looking to provide services to families for years and years,” Dr. Eames said. “We are trying to help families figure out solutions to get over the crisis they are experiencing, how to learn some coping skills to deal with what’s going on, and in addition to that, how can they take these things that they have learned and generalize them when problems arise in the future.”


Mental Health Awareness Month is also an important time at DePelchin because the organization also provides foster care services. Chil­dren and youth who expe­ri­ence trau­ma, includ­ing abuse or neglect, are at increased risk for long-term emo­tion­al, behav­ioral and phys­i­cal health prob­lems, among oth­er chal­lenges.


DePelchin is grateful for the supporters who make it possible for us to offer counseling services. For more information about our counseling programs, please click here.

Learning more about foster care during National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month, and we are celebrating all of the families who provide temporary care for children through DePelchin. Our families come in all shapes and sizes and play a critically important role in the lives of children who have suffered from abuse or neglect.


DePelchin is always looking for more families to provide foster care, but families who are interested in caring for children may not know where to begin. Below, Samantha Schwartz, DePelchin’s Director of Foster Care Services, answers some common questions about the process of bringing a child into the home through foster care.


We hope this information will be helpful to anyone who is considering becoming a foster parent or looking to learn more about the needs of these children.




How does a child come to be in a foster home?


A phone call is made to a state hotline when someone suspects abuse or neglect. Depending on the severity of the allegation, they will send that family to get services first, because they want to try to help that child at home. We don’t always see those children right off the bat. If they can’t be kept at home, they typically explore kinship care — family or a close friend of the family to care for the child — before going straight to foster care.


At that point, if someone to provide kinship care cannot be found, they are officially removed, and that is when we and other child-placing agencies will get a call saying, “Hey, we have a 4-year-old boy, here are some of his needs, do you happen to have any homes that can care for his needs?” Then we look at our pool of families who are licensed and that may fit that child’s needs, and then we’ll call the family and give them the backstory of this child. We will go from there on placement and case manage them through permanency, whatever that is. Permanency could be to place the child back with the biological parents, it could be kinship, or it could be adoption.



So as a foster family, you may get a call and you are soon caring for that child for an indefinite amount of time?


Yes. Typically, if we are doing an emergency placement, we hope our families give us an answer within 30 minutes of getting that initial call. But then the placement typically happens within two to three hours after that initial phone call. We have had some kids placed with a family for less than 24 hours, and then we’ve had some kids place for four or five years. Each case starts out with reunification with the birth family as the initial goal for the child.


What are some misconceptions about foster care?


It is the type of families that can be licensed to provide foster care. A lot of people that think that there is just one type of family, a two-parent household. And that’s just not the case. We see families in different shapes and sizes, there is not just one type of family that fits.



Is cost a deterrent to providing foster care?


It definitely should not be. We help cover a lot of those costs. There are some out-of-pocket costs for a fire inspection and some things related to house safety that we ask families tocover. But there really isn’t a ton that we expect from foster parents throughout the licensing process. You don’t have to be rich to be a foster parent. We ask that you have a budget that has some wiggle room for allowing some kids to be placed in your home and supporting them while waiting on the reimbursement that the state provides.



Are there enough foster families for the children who need them?


There have always been families available for the younger children. And that one is always an easier placement to make. But we’re seeing more kids come in a little bit older, seven and older, and their needs are a little different. There is always a need for families that can take care  of groups of siblings.



What kind of training do foster families get?


They attend an orientation at the beginning of our process to kind of learn the ins and outs of foster care. Then they start the application process. Once they are getting close to the end of the application process, they go through our training, and it is anywhere from trauma-informed care to cultural competency and that you understand what’s needed for the child placed in your home.



If you are not in a position to serve as a foster parent, but you want to be supportive of foster families, what are some ways that you can help these children and families?


Respite care is a great way to help. There are different qualifications for short-term versus long-term, but it’s basically somebody that can help provide care for the child. It may be providing care for a few hours while the foster parents run to the grocery store, or so they can go to a movie on a Saturday night. If you are interested in maybe becoming a foster family, respite care is a great way to dip your toe in the water.



For more information about how to become a foster family through DePelchin, please visit our Prospective Parents page.


DePelchin Children’s Center honors Fox 26 at Families for Kids Luncheon

DePelchin Children’s Center honored Fox 26 Houston while raising $347,000 at the organization’s annual Families for Kids luncheon on April 25. The luncheon is the largest annual fundraiser for DePelchin, which provides services for children and families in the Houston area and other parts of Texas.


DePelchin presented Fox 26 Houston with the Kezia DePelchinAward, named for the woman who founded DePelchin in Houston in 1892. Fox 26 Houston partners with DePelchin each month on a news segment, called Finding Families, that spotlights children who need homes. The segments have helped many children find foster and adoptive families while raising broader awareness of the needs of children in the child welfare system.


“It’s hard to quantify the impact of these segments, but one thing we know is that countless individuals have learned about DePelchin for the first time through this partnership with FOX 26 Houston,” said DePelchin Board President and CEO Jenifer Jarriel. “Because of these segments, featured children have found adoptive families, individuals have been inspired to start their journey to become foster parents, and volunteers and donors have joined our cause. And for that, we are so thankful.”


Sally McDonald, the host of the Finding Families segment on Fox 26 Houston, served as the luncheon emcee. Christine and William Turcotte chaired this year’s luncheon, which was held at River Oaks Country Club.


The luncheon speaker was Dave Pelzer, an author and motivational speaker whose story of resilience and triumph over adversity has inspired people worldwide. He wrote A Child Called ‘It,’ which details the abuse that Pelzer suffered as a child. The book spent six years on the New York Times bestseller list.


As part of the luncheon, DePelchin Board Chair Temple Webber described initiatives that the organization has launched since last year, including:

o Two new residential programs at DePelchin’s Today’s Harbor campus in La Porte: one that serves pregnant and parenting teens in foster care, and one for foster youth who have chosen to age out of foster care between the ages of 12 and 17.

o A partnership in which DePelchin clinicians work alongside Child Protective Services investigators to identify families who are at the highest risk of entering the child welfare system. The partnership aims to preserve more families by providing hope, healing, and access to life-changing services.


“In the time that’s passed since our last luncheon, the landscape of the child welfare system in Texas has continued to change,” Webber said. “I’m proud to report that DePelchin has done what we do best – evolved to expand our impact on the lives of children.”



Photo Attached: (Left to right) DePelchin Board President and CEO Jenifer Jarriel, Fox 26 Houston General Manager D’Artagnan Bebel, and DePelchin Senior Vice President and COO Jesse Booher after Fox 26 Houston won the Kezia DePelchin Award.