Denton organization gives teens in foster care a sense of direction – Cross Timbers Gazette | Denton County South | mound of flowers
Myron Wilson still vividly remembers the day five years ago when a young woman came to her church in McKinney asking for help. She was 18, alone, scared and uncertain about her future after recently leaving foster care.
As a pastor, Wilson used to have solutions to all problems. But this situation caught him off guard.
“My wife, Stacy, and I were pretty naive about those situations at the time. But one thing we couldn’t understand was letting an 18-year-old girl go and stay on the streets,” Wilson said. “So we brought her into our home. Over time, we became aware of what these children are going through and the importance of helping them understand what it is like to be in a loving environment.”
“God put this in my path, and I knew we had to make a difference.”
Wilson’s answer to the problem is Direction 61:3, a faith-based nonprofit organization registered with the State of Texas and licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to help men and women ages 15-24. years of moving from foster care to society as fulfilled adults.
As well as providing a roof over their heads – Direction 61:3 currently has three residencies with a fourth on the way – their holistic approach includes physical and emotional support, educational counseling, career preparation, training in life skills and how to build and establish life-altering relationships.
The organization was started in McKinney, and all homes currently donated are within city limits and overseen by an adoptive parent. This includes FARM, a new property that will serve as the main office and provide three acres for a foster and seniors community of homes and programming facilities for children ages 15-24. With a variety of small houses to larger foster homes, the FARM has the potential to house up to 60 young people.
And the best part – they’ve expanded to Denton. In the coming months, they are expected to close their first house and put it into operation by October. With still the hope of opening a second home after the first of the year.
“We are looking for investors who will buy a house and rent it to us for three years. We have people who help with maintenance in the house, and the idea is to keep these children off the streets. It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” Wilson said. “We provide stability; we give them a place where they feel they can belong and a sense of direction they just didn’t have before.
While many people instantly praise Direction 61:3 for its efforts and want to find ways to get involved, few fully understand the sobering statistics that justify having this kind of resource in the first place. The foster care system is designed as a temporary arrangement that provides children and adolescents with a safe place to live, either because they no longer have parents or because their parents or primary caregivers are going through a crisis. The older a child gets, the harder it is to find a forever home. Many of these children move from house to house and struggle to maintain a strong support system around them.
Once they turn 18, they are legally considered adults. As a result, many choose to leave foster care, unaware that they are sadly unprepared for the real world. About 38-40% of the current homeless population are children who have recently left foster care. And 80% of all victims of sex trafficking have been placed in foster care.
“I was a missionary overseas and fell in love with being able to work with young adults to prepare them for the transition from a children’s village and back to their community,” said Jen Moore, Regional Director by Denton at Direction 61:3. “When I came back to the States, I realized there was a need here in our own backyard too. And it couldn’t be more true.
She added, “We revolve around these men and women and continue to serve and care for them as they grow into young adults.”
Wilson agreed, adding that engaging teenage adoptees can be invaluable in establishing a positive life trajectory.
“Children are leaving foster care because they’ve moved too much and feel like they can take care of themselves better than the state,” he said. “But that’s usually a false assumption. We want to expand our network so we can help them thrive.
Affordable and stable housing is essential for young people coming out of the foster care system. Direction 61:3 provides such housing, allowing young adults to focus on the skills and education needed to become self-sufficient. Housing integrates a global approach beyond a simple living space and promotes a sense of belonging. Going forward, they envision a network of housing facilities across North Texas, with particular focus on communities where current housing assistance is not available.
“We had the great privilege of watching the children transform before our eyes,” Wilson said. “It’s a great feeling.”
To learn more about the 61:3 Direction, including how to apply for housing, volunteer, donate financially, or become a foster parent, visit direction613.org or call 214-544-9055.