SJRC Texas has embarked on a new effort to meet the needs of children in the foster care system who are exiting psychiatric care and in the process of entering their next placement.

In partnership with SJRC’s Belong division and Touchstone Alliance, a nonprofit operating as part of SJRC, the organization recently opened an integrative treatment center in New Braunfels.

“We needed something in our community that really would serve our kids that stepped down from psychiatric hospitals that are not quite ready for the next [place], whether it be in RTC (residential treatment centers) or a foster home or the next place that they go, without a little more support and services,” said Tara Roussett, CEO of SJRC Texas and Belong.

The center will receive its first placements later this spring, Roussett said, and will be focused on serving girls ages 13-18.

The program is designed for children to stay at the 16-bed center for no more than 90 days while the interdisciplinary team provides behavioral, mental and physical programming and preparation for the child’s next placement.

“We want to get our kids and get them fully assessed for what they need, then communicate with the next place they're going, which is hopefully to a family setting,” Roussett said. “We want to have everything set up for success in that transition, and then Touchstone will follow them to the next place to ensure that they're getting their continued mental health needs met.”

SJRC’s Belong division oversees the Community Based Care initiative in the Department of Family and Protective Services South Central Hill Country region, which encompasses 27 counties between Jackson County and Val Verde County, excluding Bexar County.

Roussett said eventually the program will be expanded to serve other demographics throughout the region as part of a statewide effort to ease the transition between placements and provide needed mental health services to children in the foster care system.

Touchstone is also expected to separate from SJRC Texas at a later date and will continue to provide services at the SJRC-owned facility as a contractor.

According to Roussett, the program will play a key role in helping to establish stability for children in the foster care system and prevent children from experiencing frequent placement changes.

“Every decision that we make with the children under our care is for what we can do today to get them to permanency,” she said.