Hope Rising, a licensed child placement agency and non-profit (501c3) anti-sex trafficking organization, has kicked off their 2020 Capital Giving Campaign for the Washington County Emergency Assessment and Stabilization Center for children and youth rescued from sex trafficking and sexual abuse.
Executive Director Sherri Clement says that she is overwhelmed by the community’s response and support of local efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking and provide safe, nurturing homes for children and youth rescued from expolitative and sexually abusive situations.
Hope Rising has been in operation in Washington County since 2014, and has operated as a licensed placement agency since 2017 under the direction of Executive Director, Sherri Clement.
“A rural ranch environment provides an ideal setting for our homes and this will also be true about the future Emergency Assessment and Stabilization Home here in Washington County,” says Clement. “Since we will facilitate all of our services on-site at the new facilities, children in our care will be educated through an online charter school with an on-site trauma informed teacher and tutors. While in the care of our foster families, we encourage the children to spend a great deal of time outdoors.participating in equine therapy and decompressing in the natural environment.”
Plans where released for a new state-of-the-art Emergency Assessment Home which will begin construction in early spring with an expected completion date of mid-2021.
“What we have learned,’ says Clement, ‘is that when a child is rescued from a sexually abusive or exploitative environment, they need a lot of individual care and attention and they need it right away. They need medical and psychiatric care, as well as, a safe and nurturing environment with caregivers willing to bond with them. These are incredible expectations to place on any biological parent or foster family, but it is well worth the effort.”
Oftentimes, when children first come into foster care, not much information is known about them and their trauma,” explains Renee Calder Encinias, Licensed Administrator and Program Director for Hope Rising. “This makes it hard to be sure that their first placement is a good match. When a child is placed in a home that is NOT a good match, then they are moved, and an additional trauma is added to their experience. This is disruptive to the foster homes and other children placed in that home as well as the child who is bouncing around trying to find the “right fit.” Many have recognized for some time that what is needed is upfront assessments to find out what the child’s needs are. When this was identified as a gap in services in Texas, specific to the population of trafficking survivors, Hope Rising decided to fill that gap. The intent is to have a child who is believed to be a survivor of sex trafficking come to Hope Rising’s Emergency Assessment Center for 30, 60 or 90 days based on their needs and how long it takes to complete all the necessary medical screenings, psychological evaluations and a list of other assessments and screenings. These assessments will help those responsible for the child better determine what home or facility is the best fit for the child. Knowing the child’s needs, the team will know what skills the next caregivers should possess. This also allows for a slower transition, if needed, so the child can get to know the new caregivers a little rather than meeting them for the first time when their caseworker is dropping them off in the home. The Emergency Assessment Center will also provide 24 hour awake staff to ensure the safety and well-being of those children placed in Hope Rising’s care. These staff will be trained in working with the trafficking survivor population, as well as, given many other tools to help these children heal while in Hope Rising’s care.
“The Texas Governor’s Office has recognized the need for specialized care and trauma-informed intervention programs,” explains Clement. “Governor Abbott and his team are very active and remain informed of all details concerning the operation of Hope Rising and the development of the Emergency Assessment Center. Senator Michael McCaul has also been on on a site visit and is an instrumental voice in fighting trafficking and providing long-term restoration for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.”
“This kind of work is hard,” says Pastor Tim Webb, Chairman of the Board of Hope Rising. “Successful treatment of sexual abuse requires extensive therapy and trauma-informed care from highly trained and educated professionals. Sexual exploitation breaks not only the psyche but also the spirit. The work is often misunderstood, the topic taboo, and people can have a hard time understanding how they can be a part of the solution. This assessment center, if handled correctly, could be a state-of-the art facility for sexual restoration and healing for minors.”
Anyone seeking additional information or seeking donation opportunities can find more information at www.hoperisingministries.org and follow along on social media.