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Children's home talks changes

Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS) is planning new programs as well as additions to services offered to area youth. President/CEO David Thompson said the organization will have both residential and community-based programs which will emphasize preventative services that break cycles of abuse and neglect.

A gathering on Saturday evening reunited adults who found refuge and relief at Farmington Children’s Home or lived for a while at the residential treatment center operated by Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS).

PCHAS President/CEO David Thompson took the opportunity to outline big changes for the programs offered to the Farmington community.

“We will have both residential and community-based programs,” said Thompson. “Following scholarship and best practices, we want to emphasize preventative services that break cycles of abuse and neglect.

“Our goal is to keep families together and serve children before they are faced with circumstances that necessitate removal from a home.”

Thompson noted that as the population of St. Francois County has increased, so have the rates of poverty and school dropouts.

“Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services has evidence-based programs to strengthen families and cultivate self-sufficiency in young adults, and we are bringing those here to address education, employment, and family stability.”

Caren Mell, regional director of PCHAS, oversees the current Farmington Residential Treatment Center and said they have several programs in the works.

“Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services is opening a hub of services in Farmington, including two residential programs. One will be for teens who are aging out of foster care — a program we already operate in Springfield and Columbia. The other involves housing and therapy for single-parent families while they work on becoming self-sufficient.

“PCHAS operates this Single Parent Family Program in communities across Texas and it has shown amazing results.”

By the end of this summer, PCHAS operations in Farmington will also offer community-based programs such as counseling for families and therapeutic mentoring for children and teens.

Mell emphasized that all of these programs offer care and support to children and families in need, at no charge, regardless of religion. She said that the agency has a strong community network in the area and will continue collaborating with resource providers, volunteers, and donors.

In 2016, Parkland Health Center conducted a Community Health Needs Assessment. Its county-wide focus group concluded that many students drop out due to generational patterns and, despite good employment opportunities, many residents are under-employed.

The focus group also expressed concern about the population’s budgeting skills and the high cost of daycare, especially for parents working evening or night shifts.

In order to address these pressing needs, PCHAS stopped accepting new clients at its residential treatment center and is in the process of selling the building. The children currently living there will complete their treatment and be discharged by mid to late summer.

PCHAS plans to renovate the cottages on its current campus for homes. While leasing temporary offices, it will renovate another building for permanent office space. The agency is also purchasing an apartment building near the high school to house future residents.

PCHAS in Farmington began as an orphanage. By the 1970s, it evolved to provide residential treatment for teenagers recovering from abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

“PCHAS has served children in southeast Missouri since 1914 and we remain fully committed to Christ-centered care for children and families in need,” Thompson said.

“The community has always been a great support to our children,” Mell remarked. “...And many local people have worked or volunteered with PCHAS. 

“We’ll be announcing new employment opportunities as we launch these programs this summer and fall,” explained Mell. “We look forward to continuing to serve the community of Farmington with the best programs we have to offer.”

For more information call 573-756-6744 or contact via email at info@pchas.org.

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com.

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