‘Life-changing’: Why foster children love a Driftwood youth center

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DRIFTWOOD, Texas (KXAN) —The Burke Center for Youth, located in Driftwood, has helped mold and shape boys in foster care for decades.

“It is a life-changing place,” said Jeffery Yarbrough, who has spent the last three-and-a-half years living at the facility. “If I never had a program like they have here, I would probably end up somewhere where I wouldn’t want to be for a long time.”

The center is open to boys ages 11-17 who are in the foster care system, and it provides constant care for those who live there — something that’s vital to the boys’ mental and physical health.

“They need therapy and 24 hours a day, 365 days a year attention to help them through difficult times,” said Steve Fornier, the center’s executive director.

The goal is to work with the boys and get them back into a foster home or get them adopted.

Fornier says the pandemic has impacted fostering and adoptions, and with concerns over the virus spreading, fewer people are taking in kids.

“One of the biggest needs is for people to step up and help these children that are in the foster system,” Fornier said. “There are not enough, especially with COVID. That is probably one of the hardest things that has happened.”

The Burke Center houses 21 boys, but will soon expand in June with a new dorm.

“So we are going from 21 boys to 30 boys,” Fornier said. “Our capacity is increasing, and we know there is a huge need for that in the state of Texas.”

The boys currently sleep four to a room, but will soon have their own individual rooms.

“Just the fact that they will have their own space, that will help them heal quicker,” Fornier said.

Jeffery is currently in transitional housing because he just turned 18.

He graduates in a few weeks and then, with the help from Burke Center, he will start his new job and new life.

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