Maryville proposes DCFS partnership on recovery home for teen moms
Despite the closure of its residential facilities announced Tuesday, Maryville Academy is planning to collaborate with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on a new program for teen mothers, state officials confirmed Wednesday.
Officials at the Des Plaines-based child care organization have submitted a concept paper to the department that proposes creation of a recovery home for mothers who would have their infants and preschool-aged children with them.
Right now, the idea is just in the "brainstorming stage," said Veronica Resa, a DCFS spokeswoman.
Maryville and DCFS haven't yet said where the program would be located or how many children it might serve. They also haven't identified a timeline for when the program might begin.
The new programming comes amid a shift in focus for Maryville, which has housed children since it opened as an orphanage for boys in 1883.
Maryville officials announced Tuesday they were discontinuing all of their residential treatment programs, including two programs for boys in Des Plaines, three for girls in Bartlett, as well as a shelter for girls in Chicago.
The decision comes amid a looming $23 million state funding cut for residential and institutional programs statewide. Maryville officials said they would no longer be able to afford their residential programs.
Under the direction of George Sheldon, DCFS' new director as of February 2015, the agency has told Maryville and other child welfare agencies it plans to reduce the number of youths living in residential treatment facilities, and place more of them in foster homes.
Resa said DCFS will work this summer to find new homes for youths living at Maryville, ideally foster homes that can supply all the necessary therapies for each child.
While Maryville's contracts with DCFS end June 30, Maryville officials say they are willing to house the youths through August until DCFS can find them new residences.
There's currently 29 teen boys living at Maryville's campus at 1150 N. River Road in Des Plaines, 31 teen girls at the Eisenberg campus at 951 W. Bartlett Road in Bartlett, and eight teen girls at the John and Mary Madden Shelter at 1658 W. Grand Ave. in Chicago.
Beyond the proposed program with DCFS, Maryville will also work on starting or expanding programs of its own, including early childhood development and in-community youth services, according to a letter from Executive Director Sister Catherine Ryan sent to donors Tuesday.
Maryville currently operates a special education school for boys ages 5 to 21, Catholic Youth Organization athletic programs and a golf program. It also operates a crisis nursery for families needing temporary child care during emergencies, and a family behavioral health clinic, among other programs.
"It's important people know Maryville is not closing," Ryan said in an interview Tuesday. "We are continuing, but it's going to be with a different emphasis because of the needs of today."