Today's Harbor for Children
Offers Refuge For Children In Crisis
For children who are neglected or abused, it can seem like there is nowhere to turn for help. Today’s Harbor for Children, formerly Boys and Girls Harbor, has been providing children in southeast Texas, who are in dangerous environments, with a protective alternative for over 70 years. By utilizing a three-tier approach consisting of place, family structure, and choice, Today’s
Harbor for Children addresses all aspects of abuse and neglect.
A place is a physical space that offers stability to those who have been neglected. Because they require a setting designed specifically for their needs, the Harbor is an actual campus providing them with a residential community and a foundation for growth. Licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, it consists of eight cottages in a seaside setting in La Porte, Texas, and houses up to 64 children. The average child is 10 to 12 years of age. Most stay for about three years, though some stay for their entire childhood. The older children attend La Porte High School and are encouraged to participate in after school programs and activities.
Family structure consists of equal parts responsibility and love and is headed by those who care so deeply that they feel responsible for the healthy growth of those in their safekeeping. At Today’s Harbor for Children, each child is placed in a family structure with two adults and siblings. They attend family meals, are responsible for doing chores, and are raised with expectations.
There is also a host family program or anchor program. It is an important part of the Harbor’s approach. Anchors are volunteers who invite one or more children from Today’s Harbor for Children into their homes to become part of their family during host family visits. Children generally spend alternate weekends, holidays, and part of the summer with their host family. The experience allows children to understand and be part of the daily routine and activities of family life outside their community. Support and guidance are crucial for these children. Host families, along with Today’s Harbor for Children house parents and staff, provide both during this critical period in their young lives.
Choice, Today’s Harbor for Children believes, is the first step in changing a family’s future. It is the choice a parent makes when recognizing their family needs help and decides to place their child with Today’s Harbor for Children knowing they will not be giving up their rights. It is also the choice the child makes to take back their life and be the one in control of it. Last but not least, it is the choice the community makes to understand when to become involved and support the important organizations that work so hard to make positive changes in the lives of the children they assist.
These three crucial elements, place, family structure, and choice give children the resources they require to conquer self-destructive patterns, break the cycle of abuse, develop social skills, and learn to be responsible. Ultimately, they allow children to take back their own lives and begin walking a path where success is a destination they can achieve.
Sports activities are also recognized by the organization as being important.
The campus includes a large gymnasium for basketball and volleyball, and a baseball field with bleachers for spectators. In addition to intramural games, its children’s teams also compete against other residential care programs, churches, and private schools in the area. These athletic programs give each child the opportunity to develop as an individual and as a team player, the goal being to provide them with ordinary life experiences that develop character and social skills. Through sports, children learn the importance of following rules, self-discipline, taking responsibility for their actions, self-control, leadership, and good sportsmanship. These are life lessons that can be applied in the real world. When the children, house parents, and staff get together for sporting events, the sense of community and camaraderie is almost overwhelming.
After 70 years, Today’s Harbor for Children gave itself a name change that it feels speaks to the idea that community is not meant to be a forever place. It states that the hardships these children have faced are temporary.
The change occurred on February 21, 2018. Though the name is no longer Boys and Girls Harbor, the organization is still the same one that, each year, provides residential care for over 100 children, and that, since its inception, has been home for thousands. With its new name, the organization continues to be an invaluable resource for the community where dreams begin. By providing a safe and loving environment, Today’s Harbor for Children is a stop along the way of a journey that prepares children for everything that lies ahead.
To learn more about the organization and placing a child at Today’s Harbor for Children, please visit: