In 2018, there were 63,657 confirmed victims of abuse and neglect in Texas — with approximately 423 of them living in Comal County, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

SJRC Texas, formerly known as St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, works to care for children and families affected by trauma — and the McKenna Foundation is helping it.

The foundation has committed $450,000 over three years to the SJRC to add the Parents as Teachers program to the array of services offered to Comal County residents, McKenna Foundation representatives announced Wednesday.

“Inspired by the high positive correlation between early childhood investment and improved social outcomes, the McKenna Foundation has chosen to deepen their commitment by supporting the expansion of PAT through this partnership with the SJRC,” McKenna officials stated. 

Since 2001, McKenna has operated the PAT program, providing individualized intervention and case management services to high-risk families with children under three. 

PAT is an internationally recognized child abuse prevention model that works to help families prepare young children for success in school by providing support, information on development, and targeted intervention to ensure children are healthy, safe and ready to learn.

“The SJRC has served children in need in Comal County for 37 years and is ready to expand into prevention and education program delivery,” McKenna officials said. “Building on their nationally accredited track record of providing high-quality therapeutic residential treatment services for children 0 to 21 years, operation of a pregnant and parenting teen program and serving as a safe haven for child sex trafficking survivors, SJRC is uniquely positioned to continue this program.”

The McKenna Foundation is committed to partnering with organizations like SJRC Texas, who “demonstrate a commitment to fostering safe and nurturing environments for children,” said Alice Jewell, CEO of McKenna. 

“Both agencies believe in supporting the family’s most basic role of providing for a child’s health, safety, security and emotional well-being,” Jewell said. “This grant will help to ensure these much-needed services are available in our community for years to come.”

Jewell said it is expected the program will grow over the next few years.

McKenna has served more than 1,500 families with over 10,000 hours of intervention and offered over 3,000 referrals to local support agencies. 

The McKenna PAT program was endorsed with national PAT Blue-Ribbon status in 2017, showing that they are exceeding the PAT essential requirements, McKenna officials stated.

“With McKenna supporting early intervention with at-risk families, it ensures services are offered when most critical, resulting in adults who are more competent in their roles as nurturers, teachers and advocates during early childhood,” officials said.

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