Dear Friends of Our Children:
For over 132 years, we have been blessed with caring for children. Since 1883, when Maryville began as an orphanage, our mission has been to protect, heal, and educate the most vulnerable children in Illinois. Throughout our history, we have examined the needs of children and families and evaluated our programs in light of the latest research and current societal needs. Our priority is to protect and care for children while stewarding our resources with a discipline that ensures Maryville’s viability and mission for another century of protecting children and preparing them for the future. Today, we are sharing with you a significant change in focus on the way we will deliver our services to ensure a brighter future for at-risk children and families in Illinois.
Maryville’s New Direction
Maryville will expand its early childhood development and in-community youth services. Specifically, we will more pointedly dedicate our resources to safe environments and early learning opportunities for the youngest members of our communities. Research shows investing in child development from birth – 5 years has the most significant, positive impact. Poverty rates for children are highest among those under age 6.*
Therefore, we will give particular attention to that group of children who are experiencing gaps in opportunities for early learning and safety. In 2013, more than 600,000 children in Illinois lived in households with incomes below the poverty level. Maryville will give special emphasis to programs with children confronted with the added challenges of poverty. Even as we work with younger children, we will also offer programs to develop and advance life skills, education, and healing to school-age youth in the community.
Ten Years of Preparing for the New Direction
Maryville’s Crisis Nursery was opened ten years ago to provide a safe haven for children ages birth to 6 years. In this most recent decade of Maryville’s service, we have examined the studies on risks to children. One distressing statistic is the death of the most vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. The Crisis Nursery allows parents time to resolve problems while preparing to take their children safely home knowing that, during their time of crisis, their children are safe at Maryville.
Maryville Children’s Healthcare Center was opened two years later to provide transitional and respite care for children who are medically fragile and exceedingly vulnerable.
Maryville Jen School was established in 2007 to provide therapeutic educational service, life skills and vocational training. We understand the importance of helping children succeed in educational environments from our experience in residential and shelter care.
Maryville Family Behavioral Health Clinic, opened last year, offers mental health and substance abuse treatment for children and their parents and other family members. Working with the children in residential care and their families, we saw the benefit of addressing mental health and substance abuse problems with the entire family unit.
CYO, run by Maryville, is an outlet for children threatened with gun violence, offering safe time and space. We offer wrap-around counseling services to help youth and their families succeed. Maryville is looking forward to expanding these services further and in more communities.
A Necessary Though Difficult Change
Since 1883, Maryville has cared for children – beginning with an orphanage, and evolving ever since. Thousands of children have flourished in the protection, healing, and education they experienced through our dedicated and compassionate staff in both residential and shelter care settings.
Unfortunately, DCFS has decided it is ending shelter care and significantly reducing residential care. DCFS has redefined its goal to have youth live in foster homes. We agree with the DCFS goal for children to live in family homes when they can do so safely. We will work with DCFS toward this vision and are discussing possible new programs of collaboration.
To accomplish its goal, the DCFS budget for FY 2017 includes a $23 million reduction in residential and institutional care. Even before this proposed change in direction to more foster care, the contract funds from DCFS have not matched Maryville’s cost of our residential programs. During these last ten years, Maryville, with the help of you, our donors, invested $33 million in this care, beyond what the state paid. Within the last two weeks, DCFS informed us that it would reduce the contracted funds to Maryville even more in FY 2017. This has become a financial burden we can no longer sustain if we are to continue serving Illinois’ at-risk children.
As such, Maryville’s Board of Directors has decided that we will conclude our residential care for DCFS with the FY 2016 contracts, ending June 30th. We will work with DCFS over the next one to three months to help our youth make successful transitions to the new residences DCFS selects. Our professional and committed staff will continue to provide the care, guidance, counseling and encouragement the youth need while still at Maryville. We will continue to work with DCFS to achieve the best outcomes for the children and their families.
Caring for Children, Strengthening Families
As Maryville looks forward to an exciting future of bringing programs and care more directly into the communities that need hope and healing, we will need your insight and prayers. We say thank you for your past and continuing support and we know that, together, we will help to transform more lives in the years to come!
With faith, determination, and a sense of urgency, we renew Maryville’s commitment to care for children and assist their families where they need us today and in the future.
Peace and all good.
Sister Catherine M. Ryan, O.S.F.
*Illinois Kids Count 2015: Confronting Poverty, Creating Opportunity published by Voices for Illinois Children.