Methodist Children’s Home (MCH) actively helps human trafficking survivors and supports partner agencies through collaborative efforts across Texas and New Mexico. MCH works with Unbound Now Waco, a church-affiliated organization launched in 2012 to address issues related to human trafficking. The nonprofit has chapters across the United States and in several countries.
The Reagan House, an Unbound Now Waco entity, is a home offering refuge for teenage girls escaping sex trafficking and exploitation. The house was highlighted at Unbound Now Waco’s recent sisterhood brunch, which also featured a discussion panel to raise awareness about human trafficking. Traci Wagner, vice president for programs at MCH, specifically shared about the need for trauma-informed classrooms and how the MCH charter school equips Reagan House survivors to flourish in their education.
“Imagine putting a child with trauma in the middle of a mainstream classroom,” Wagner said. “Certain environments can trigger behaviors developed through trauma, the child will act out and then will be labeled as ‘a bad kid.’”
Wagner explained the charter school is set up with trauma-informed spaces and care such as flexible seating, standing desks, a sensory room, and staff who encourage students to remain hydrated and have high-protein snacks.
“We put the relationship before the rigor when it comes to our children’s education,” Wagner said. “We develop a deep understanding of our kids so we can hopefully help them regulate as much as possible when they are triggered.”
Each panelist shared about their passion for “the hard work they are called to do.”
“I believe God placed on my heart a willingness to help people before they get into tough situations,” Wagner said, after sharing about her previous experiences working on death row and in the juvenile detention system.
“I will stay at MCH until God tells me to do something else,” she told the attendees. “We’re all one decision or event away from becoming the ones we’re serving and I don’t take that lightly. That is why I want to help children, youth and families across Texas and New Mexico. I’m so proud of the way our teams at MCH continue the hard work for our kids – your kids. Each of us has a heart for every single one of them.”
Other panelists included Dr. Sheryl Victorian, chief of the Waco Police Department; Dr. Soo Battle, medical advisor and child sexual abuse examiner for the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims; Sara Nellis, survivor and Unbound Now director of early intervention; Sharon Miles, founder and psychotherapist for Milestone Counseling & Consulting. Special thanks to Kristi Hayes, executive director for Unbound Now Waco, for organizing the event and for leading the discussion panel.