By ART LIMANN, For The Times Leader
WHEELING - Youths in need have several facilities to care for them in the Ohio Valley.
The Children's Home of Wheeling, Crittenton Services, St. John's Home for Children and Youth Services System, Inc. are all local agencies that offer "Level 2" treatment services for youth.
Girls work at computer stations at Crittenton Services.
Karen Coulling, director of resource development of the Children's Home, which provides services for young males, said the facility can hold up to 14 boys and "we are pretty much always full. Each of the boys has an individual room. All of the boys we have are court-ordered to be here. They come from different backgrounds, from all over the state. Most of the problems stem from abuse or neglect."
Children's Home Executive Director Louise Paree added, "All the boys have issues. Most of them are due to lack of parental guidance. Truancy is a big issue. Our program is extremely structured. The program is also individualized. All the boys must attend school. Everyone also receives therapy.
"We go beyond basic room and board," Paree continued. "We offer an art program, music program, after school and weekend program. We (also have a gym) with a climbing wall. Our newest addition is a Snoezelen sensory treatment room. It is a multi-sensory room which engages all of the senses to relax and open communication."
The home does case management, service planning, has a consulting psychologist, and community resources for medical and dental needs as well as nursing medication and administration.
"Family therapy, where families are involved, are also available. Unifying the family is always our first goal," Paree said.
At Crittenton Services, Stacy Rich, director of marketing and development, said things have changed at the agency over the years as well.
She noted while the Florence Crittenton Home was started in Wheeling as a home for wayward women, there are now 42 beds in the current facility, 10 of which are for babies or toddlers. The agency is full most of the time.
The residential program is for girls between 12 and 18 years old who are pregnant or parenting, as well as those who are not. It is a "gender-responsive treatment" in which a multidisciplinary treatment team works with girls to develop a strength-based treatment plan.
The treatment team consists of psychiatrists, therapists, case managers, teachers, nurses, an art therapist, certified addiction counselors, music therapist, activity coordinators and direct service workers. By working together they help girls to change and transform their individual growth. There is 24-hour supervision.
"While residential services are at the heart of what we do, we now have 500 in our "Wellspring Family Services" outpatient and in-home services program for the community. It is our largest program," Rich said.
The Wellspring program is aimed at restoring stability to families by offering specialized treatment and counseling.
An intensive educational and outpatient treatment program is also available for middle and high school-aged girls in Ohio County's public schools. Rich said it is like a bridge between the residential and Wellspring programs. In it, girls come to the residential facility for counseling and instruction and go home at night.
In addition, mothers in Crittenton's residential program use the "Cradles to Crayons" child care and after-school care program, for infants and toddlers, which allows them to finish their education during the day. Parents within the community also use the child care service.
"We're busy bees," Rich said. "We work very closely with Wheeling Park High School and Ohio County Schools. It's a good relationship. We also offer a GED program and some college programs."
At St. John's Home for Children, Terry McCormick, executive director, said his agency deals with boys between the ages of 8 and 14. The average age is 10.
"We generally deal with younger boys," he said. "We work mostly with boys who have been abused or neglected. We help them gain back their trust ... help them get over their emotional issues. They are assigned by the court system.
"We just opened our new building about a year ago. We now have a capacity of 12. We are always full and have a waiting list. It's sad but their is a need."
The agency offers clinical evaluation, treatment plans, case management, behavior management, therapy, supportive counseling, case consultation, and recreation service. There is also a community-based drug and alcohol treatment service for adolescents dealing with the results of abuse and addiction.
Youth System Services also offers a wide range of services for ages 2 to 21. It operates the only two emergency youth shelters in the Northern Panhandle, the Helinski Shelter in Moundsville and the Samaritan House in Wheeling. These two facilities provided services to 192 youth last year.
In addition to community, school, and home-based services it has the Tuel Transitional Training Center in New Martinsville, where young adults between 18 and 21 learn skills for independent living, continue their education, and learn work skills needed for gainful employment. Other job training and employment programs are also offered along with a transitional living program.
Mike Toothman, spokesperson for YSS, said, "Our goal is to give kids the tools to grow up. We're very concerned about reaching kids early if they need help."