Larkin Center in Elgin to close Friday; Chicago agency to run some homes

Financial issues mean Elgin agency’s 117 years of service to end on Friday

The Larkin Center in Elgin will close its doors Friday after 117 years of helping people, particularly children, with emotional- and mental-health difficulties, officials announced Wednesday.

Another agency, Lawrence Hall Youth Services, will lease and manage four of Larkin’s group homes and move a treatment program to Hall’s Chicago campus, according to a prepared statement from Lawrence Hall.

“Unfortunately, the Center has experienced financial challenges at a time when demand for its services has increased. We have been in discussions with several strategic partners over the last 18 months to secure the long-term future of the Center,” according to a Larkin Center news release.

“As of last Friday, the effort collapsed and we are working with appropriate state agencies to transfer contracts and transition our clients. As a result, it saddens us to announce that the Center will no longer be able to sustain itself after Friday, Oct. 18.”

The center operates schools, group homes, subsidized apartments and a special-education school.

It relied almost entirely on government funding, according to its federal tax return and its 2011-12 annual report. It spent $8.89 million in 2011-12, and took in $8.96 million.

The Larkin Center School that year educated 68 students with severe learning, emotional and behavioral challenges, from 20 school districts from Rockford east to Waukegan and as far south as Sandwich.

Ninety-eight youths lived in its residential programs: 70 in group homes, 16 in social sexual treatment and 12 in transitional skills centers.

Its website said it had six group homes for children and teens and one for adults.

The Larkin Center also offered community counseling services.

According to the Lawrence Hall statement, it worked with Larkin to find a way for services to continue, “but a number of financial and operational obstacles proved too difficult for Larkin to overcome.”

The executive director and the chief financial officer from the Larkin Center could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

According to the 2011 tax return, the center ended that year with $285,019 in noninterest-bearing cash and $66,374 in savings and temporary cash investments. Its net assets at the end of the year were $366,446.

  Larkin Center Executive Director Dennis Graf talks last year about the challenges the center faces at its group homes for troubled kids. The center announced Wednesday it is closing Friday. A Chicago agency has agreed to lease and run four of the centerÂ’s group homes and one of its treatment programs. Rick West/
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