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How a local program helps children that age out of the foster care system

"There isn't anyone to step into the shoes of their parents...that is the purpose of this program."

SAN ANTONIO — Bexar County Court Judges continue to do all they can to help kids within the child welfare system. 

The Pearls Court was created in 2015 to help girls working their way through the system. The more recently created Eagles Court does the same for boys. The job of the respective courts is to help foster kids discover who they can be, to learn those everyday life skills and to ready for adulthood after aging out of the system. 

We spoke with three of the judicial leaders charged with running the programs that have helped nearly 150 area children to date.

"We have lots of things that we bring to the table for these youth to ensure that when they do age out of foster care that they can flourish,' said Judge Rosie Alvarado. 

'There isn't anyone who can step into the shoes of their parents and help guide them into adulthood," said Judge Angelica Jimenez. "That is the purpose of this program." 

Judge David Canales echoed those comments with the Eagles Court. "All of these kids have experienced some sort of trauma or tragedy in their life that has put in a place where they are still part of our court system. What we have on our hearts to do is to help them find some stability and give them some skillsets so that they can assimilate into society."

As abuse and neglect towards children remains problematic with Bexar County the mission of the two courts is as important as ever. 

"These programs are tailored specifically to make sure these children have life skills training," said Judge Alvarado. "That can be anything from knowing how to fill out a job application to negotiating a lease agreement," she added. 

"We teach them how to manage their money. We teach what it is to know how to open a bank account. We teach how to learn to interview for a job. Things they may not have learned otherwise had they not come into our program and been part of our family," said Judge Canales. 

"We see them become more talkative, expressive, more confident, more sure of themselves and we our boys grow in a way that had they not been part of our program that might not have grown like that," he added.

Judge Alvarado added that what the courts see with outcomes versus what the statistics are is really remarkable, and Judge Jimenez added that the children that pass through the courts continue to stay in contact. "We have so many children that have aged out that are still part of the Pearls and Eagles Court family. When they need something they still call on us."

The courts also utilize mentors as part of the program, and if you'd like to consider helping either court, Pearls or Eagles, please contact Court Manager Kimberlee Morrison at kimberlee.morrison@bexar.org.

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