ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Hendrick Home for Children was first established in 1939 and has constantly changed and expanded to help meet the needs of residents. The latest expansion happened in 2020 during the pandemic, but employees are now seeing fewer clients than before COVID-19.

Emily McFall is a resident at the Hendrick Home for Children, living with her three kids. She is on track to becoming a NICU nurse while also getting to spend time with her children, but her life has not always gone smoothly. 

She was married before living at the home for children, but when her marriage ended in divorce, she struggled with figuring out how to pay the bills. 

“That got to be a little difficult being on our own… There was no way we’d be able to make it anymore, and so we came here,” McFall recalled. 

The newly single parent was encouraged by her mom to look into the Hendrick Home for Children, a place that can provide a stable home for children and assistance for single parents. 

“I went from feeling like I’m barely keeping my head above water to I can at least tread it for now,” McFall explained. 

This home has three programs: 

Basic Care:  

  • School-aged children living full-time with house parents 
  • Custodial guardian/parent visits 
  • Enrolled in Abilene schools 
  • Participate in school and community activities 
  • Access to counseling and other health services 

After Care: 

  • Turn 18 while in Basic Care and complete high school 
  • Access and support to continue secondary education or career exploration 
  • Live onsite in an apartment 

Family Care: 

  • Single parents and their children reside in family residences 
  • Working towards an education, career or life goal 
  • Requires a vehicle, childcare, employment, and commitment to the expectations 
  • Timeline varies 

CEO and president Robert Marshall shared what the home is aimed to do.

“We want everybody to be happy. We want everybody to be emotionally healthy and we want everybody to be productive citizens,” Marshall expressed. 

He explained that this is not an orphanage, because they do not have custody over the children. 

“Birthdays, Christmas, holidays – the family still gets to be a part of all of that,” Marshall said. 

As the world changed in the last 82 years, so has the Hendrick Home. Most recently, the campus was updated in 2020 to expand facilities.

“The whole campus is fairly new,” Marshall explained. 

Since the expansion, however, they have seen fewer clients than before COVID-19, to which Marshall said he does not exactly know why. 

“It’s a combination of factors – staff – but also, it’s harder for a family to say, ‘We’re going to send our kid off,’” Marshall explained. 

They are working to hire more staff to help more people in need and encourage those who need assistance to apply. Staff hope to help more people like McFall, who said if she could talk to herself a couple of years ago, she would say, “Don’t wait so long to go.”