A Place to Heal: Lubbock Childrens Home raising funds for counseling center

By Ray Westbrook | AVALANCHE-JOURNAL

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Story last updated at 8/12/2009 - 1:26 am

By this time next year, the Children's Home of Lubbock hopes to have a fully operational counseling center that can salvage the lives of broken children.  And it will extend even to troubled parents if the children are going home again.

The Children's Home will focus on obtaining commitments Harmsduring the next two months for the $400,000 needed for construction of the center, said its president, Lynn R. Harms. Construction would begin in January and take an estimated six months.

"We want to be able to have therapists who have specialized in delivering services to the child who has gone through the trauma of abuse. And if the child is going back home, we want to be able to provide counseling services for that family," Harms said.

The facility would provide 2,800 square feet of floor space for a variety of counseling rooms for individuals and groups, as well as play space and supervised family visiting areas.

The planned center is the latest expression of a mission to help children that was set in motion in the early 1950s with the donation of land at 4400 Idalou Road.

More than 5,400 children have been helped since the first cottage began receiving children in 1954.

A variety of children come to the home, some who have been severely abused, Harms said.  "I have seen two sisters whom their mother literally prostituted them at a very early age so she could get drug money. That's a pretty extreme case, but it is a very real case," he said.  The children were ages 6 and 8 when they came to the Children's Home emergency shelter, and later were taken to the therapeutic cottage, according to Harms.

"They later went to basic care, then to foster care with a private family, and were eventually adopted and are doing extremely well in that adopted family. They are now teenagers of 14 and 16, and we hear from that family every once in a while. Their health, their progress in school, their social activities are just on target with any other.

"So, you see that healing," he said.

The Children's Home of Lubbock conducts an annual survey of its children, which includes questions about the effectiveness of the home itself.  "Outside of the fact that in their hearts every child wants to live at home and have a healthy family to live in, the fact that children feel safe out here is an extremely high response," Harms said.

"Some do go back home, and the way the courts are structured, they look for a permanency plan. If they can do that with family, either the birth family or the extended family, then that's usually the first option. Then, if not, we look for permanency with long-term foster families and adopted families."

Children can remain at Children's Home of Lubbock until they are 18. Even then, support is provided during a transition into independence.

The success stories at the Children's Home don't always stop with very young children.  "We had twin brothers who were adopted through the Children's Home at the age of 14. They were adopted by a couple of teachers in East Texas," Harms said.

"Their dad is an agriculture teacher, and was here recently for the big ag teachers conference. The family brought the boys out, and you look at those boys and see two healthy 16-year-olds. Their level of adjustment, their happiness ... you can see it in their faces, and in their interaction with their parents. They have an older adoptive brother, and it looks like any normal American family.

"They have the hope of going to school, of accomplishing, of knowing that somebody loves them."

Reprinted Courtesy of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal