An Analysis of the Development of Orchard Place : a Residential Treatment Center for Emotionally Disturbed Children
Originating in 1886, this social agency was known as the Des Moines Home for Friendless Children and functioned as a foster shelter care facility for dependent and neglected children, generally up to age 12. Its role for the community was to provide care for young, often ill, children until they were physically well or could be returned home or placed by a committee of the Board of Directors in a permanent home. This service function continued for 77 years and included a name change to Des Moines Children's Home. The major motivation that sustained the program was the determination of the Board, consisting of thirty women, that their project would be successful in the face of recurring fiscal pressures. Numerous schemes to raise funds for ongoing operations, as well as to construct a new building were mounted. A declining enrollment and a non-relatedness to an emerging need in Iowa to program for emotionally disturbed children eventually led to the closing of this child care institution in 1963. This decision by the Board came as a result of an evaluation by a professional from outside the community. A methodical transition to a goal-directed, individualized residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed children based upon a detailed analysis of the needs of the community, was begun in 1963. The field of institutional care for children nationally had experienced problems similar to those faced by this agency which chose to change and adapt to the needs of the community. Orchard Place, the name of the new program chosen by the Board, opened its doors in February 1965 as a residential treatment center for 12 emotionally disturbed children between 8 and 16 years of age, and evolved to include a resident population of 40 on its main campus. The treatment program consists of individual psychotherapy, special education and therapeutic living designed for and with each child. Among other services, a group home/half-way house program was begun in 1970; a foster placement service in 1971; and a therapeutic learning center program in 1974. Based upon the evidence in the literature, current practice in the field and the experience of Orchard Place, several trends emerge. Among these are: the increasing number of children needing residential treatment; improved funding from the State Department of Social Services at a level near actual cost; an increasing emphasis on accountability and results measurement; and legislation in an increasing number of states that requires that status offenders not be sent to state training schools. This latter issue will place more first-time offenders and pre-delinquent children in the child welfare system, rather than the juvenile justice system, and consequently in residential treatment centers. Orchard Place appears to be in a position to relate well to these evident trends and to provide services relevant to the needs of the community it serves.
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