In the early 1980’s, the need for a children’s shelter became evident to one individual. Employed as a school nurse, with several schools in the county to oversee, Mrs. Amanda Fern Norville witnessed firsthand the emotional and social effects of poor home life and neglect, as well as the physical scars of abuse, on many children with whom she came in contact.
Realizing the imminent need for a place of refuge for these young victims who had no resources for assistance, Mrs. Norville began a campaign from her seat on the Child Welfare Board, to raise the funds and build a safe place for abused and neglected children. Her vision guided and brought to completion the facility and programming that was opened in 1985. Little did she know in the early stages of planning for the Kaufman County Children’s Emergency Shelter how intense the need for the facility would become.
The facility opened its doors in August of 1985 and has continued to provide for emergency needs of the abused and neglected child. The mission and goals of the governing bodies, the management and the staff are to have a positive and lasting impact on the life of the abused child and to give each child the memory of a good and healthy experience in a loving home-like environment.
The Kaufman County Children’s Emergency Shelter is known throughout the State of Texas, through the Child Protective Service industry, as a model facility in providing a quality environment for the abused and neglected child.
One of the most unique features of the shelter is its focus on family. There are no other shelters in our region, and only a hand full in the state that are able to admit for care an entire family of siblings, from birth to seventeen years of age. Almost all other facilities of this nature are age specific and refrain from accepting the family group as a whole because of the difference in the needs of the maturing child and an infant. This one unique difference keeps the Kaufman Shelter in high demand. Our inclusion of all ages also gives an unusual twist to the ongoing needs of the shelter, from baby formula to prom dresses.
It is a certainty that every great humanitarian endeavor such as this uniquely beautiful shelter, is born out of tremendous vision and hard work. Truly here were many wonderful people involved from inception to completion of the shelter and many heartfelt thanks are in order to all of them. However, behind every movement there is always a powerful change agent, without whose intense love, dedication and influence the movement would be somewhat less than totally successful. The agent of change referred to is the late Amanda Fern Norville. She alone is worthy of the honor of having the name of this great facility changed to “A. Fern Norville Children’s Emergency Shelter”. This change was made in June of 1994. Fern lives on through the facility and the children that she loved so genuinely!