Home Sweet Home: New Youth Center Now Open

A new Harris County youth services center is now open in Southwest Houston,l a clearing houst of sorts for an array of programs aimed at abused children, at-risk young people and families in need. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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The new 72,000 square foot facility on Chimney Rock replaces a much smaller, 50-year-old building across the street and will serve as a hub for county youth services. Center director Robert Brewer says the new building consolidates services under one roof.

"This really provides a one-stop shopping place for any type of family problems that families are facing within the community. Whether it's young children, teenagers or older children, they can all be served here in this one location."

Harris County donated the land for the center and paid for the cost of the building, estimated at $14 million. County Commissioner Steve Radack says it's a big step-up from the old facility, a converted nursing home built in 1953.

"It's a much more modern facility. In the other place, it was very difficult for them to deal with the amount of people that they unfortunately had to deal with. This one here is I think state-of-the-art and the private sector came on-board and raised millions of dollars to supplement what the county put into it, so it's a win-win."

Private donations of more than $3 million helped furnish the facility. Harris County Protective Services board member Trini Mendenhall Sosa led the effort to raise the private funds and says it's good to see the community pitch-in for a worthy cause.

"Our community is so giving. In the midst of all the tragedies we've had in the past year, I can tell you that Houstonians, Harris County people are all willing to give to support children and this is a perfect example of what it is to be in a collaborative between a private and the public interest."

The facility includes an emergency shelter for kids, a medical and dental clinic, a juvenile probation office and other youth support services. Child Protective Service's Estella Olguin says it's an around the clock operation.

"This is a 24-hour facility, so police can bring children here whether they found them alone at home or those children who are committing any kind of crimes. So we can help the family and provide services to children in need."

To find out more about youth services in Harris County and to see pictures of the new center, go to our website, KUHF.org.

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