Star Republican Women hear child services program

Dorothy Crockett/The Highlander

Associate Judge Cheryll Mabray of the Child Protection Court of the Hill Country addresses Star Republican Women in Horseshoe Bay on Jan. 10.

By Dorothy Crockett

The Highlander
Star Republican Women met Tuesday, Jan. 10, for a delightful lunch and two outstanding speakers. We heard first about the Child Protection Court of the Hill Country, by Associate Judge Cheryll Mabray, followed by executive director and founder of the Phoenix Center, Sarah Garrett. Both highlighted the increasing need to provide assistance to abused and neglected children in Llano and Burnet Counties.The Child Protective Court of the Hill Country, one of 29 such specialty courts in Texas, covers seven counties including Llano and Burnet. Judge Mabray reported her court is the seventh busiest court in Texas. Approximately 12,000 children are in long term foster care, meaning that approximately 30,000 children have little chance of returning home. Ninety percent of the protection cases stem from the effects of methamphetamine, she said.“Many of the children we see in court are living in terrible squalor — no food, little clothing, and no ability to go to school,” said Mabray. It is a grim picture and shocking when we think of the abundance of everything in Texas. Judge Mabray praised the efforts of other organizations, including the Phoenix Center. Sarah Garrett founded the Phoenix Center 10 years ago. After she and her husband, District Judge Allen Garrett, moved to the Hill Country over 10 years ago, Sarah became a volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates for the Highland Lakes (CASA). Her experiences as a child advocate and her involvement with a foster child earlier in her life, led her to form the non-profit organization that inspires hope, health and healing by providing the highest level of mental health care to every child and family through innovative trauma-informed therapy and education. Garrett is a licensed psychotherapist with more than 17 years’ experience, and she believes that every child deserves access to the highest level of mental services no matter the cost. The Phoenix Center strives to provide that service.The Phoenix Center served nearly 900 parents and children in 2016. The Highland Lakes area has two times the state rate when it comes to child abuse, Garrett said. The center also partners with the Marble Falls Independent School District in training hundreds teachers in trauma-informed services.

Last year, the center launched a $6.5 million capital campaign and, by the end of the year, it reported that it had reached $3 million in donations and pledges. Garrett said that the Phoenix Center has a contract to acquire land and build the planned expansion. She hopes to announce the location at its Feb. 18 gala at Quail Point.

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