Hawley, is about sixteen miles north of Abilene, Texas and is populated by 640 souls. Yet because of its close proximity to its large neighboring big brother, this small American town is facing big town challenges. The population of foster children in Region 2 where both Abilene and Hawley are located has grown astronomically. Part of this growth could be attributed to the downturn of the oil industry. However, the area also houses two of Texas largest detention units; the Middleton and Robinson Units which have increased the number of families in crisis in the area.
Additionally, the ratio of children removed and placed into conservatorship and the number of foster families willing and able to take them in is highly disproportional on the negative side. There just isn’t enough beds for these children and often sibling groups must be separated.
To face the challenge, the Hawley Independent School District will introduce its teachers, school counselors, school social workers and caregivers to Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) as a proactive move to help meet the needs of their children who have come from hard places. There will be six hour-long sessions. Additionally a closed membership chat group will be opened to provide participants the opportunity to continue discussions on how they can implement TBRI in their schools.
I believe many of you who are reading this blog will agree that we have a crisis that is placing more and more people into the criminal justice system. It would also be difficult to argue that with the deterioration of the family, our caregivers are in great need of parenting skills and our educators should serve as an adjunct of what is taught at home. Currently, there is a dearth of parent training which has led to the climbing rate of abuse and neglect resulting in children removed and placed into the foster care system. Added to the problem is the omnipresent proliferation of drugs.
I believe the answer to our societal woes are our schools and faith-based organizations. It is these two institutions where families and children in particular can be in a safe place for growth and development. This is why I am so grateful that Hawley ISD and Davis Elementary School in Carrollton, Texas have taken the initiative to bring TBRI into their classrooms.
Call me an optimist, but having been a Child Protective Services Caseworker, and having worked with offenders in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice detention Units – I have personally witnessed some great movement to the positive that just does not get reported. So wherever you are my fellow TBRI Practitioners, know that you will definitely be part of the solution to what seems to be an interminable crisis.