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This is a question I am asked frequently. It’s a good question, too: “Why are the Homes becoming Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities?”
The primary reason is because becoming licensed as Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities is the next step in our long history of providing the most appropriate care for Louisiana’s children with the deepest emotional and behavioral needs. This transition allows us to continue doing and improving our work of ministry.
Let me share a passage written by Rev. Harry E. Ezell, the gentleman who served as Superintendent of the Methodist Children’s Home in Ruston from 1960 to 1973. He clearly saw today from his view forward in 1971.
“During the decade of the 1960’s, the Home sought to respond to the changing needs of a changing society. In an apparently increasingly unstable society, in which the incidence of many human ills, particularly mental illness, has skyrocketed, boys and girls in need of our care have also been generally more disturbed. It has been necessary to seek to offer a broader range of services to help meet these needs. A higher level of professional training, from House Parent staff through all levels of “professional staff” has become mandatory. Closer cooperation and coordination between various agencies offering services to youth has become a necessity.”
From “The Methodist Children’s Home: A Brief History”, March 19, 1971, by Harry E. Ezell
Forty-one years ago, people in the child welfare field were not generally thinking of systems of care. But Rev. Ezell was. He wrote, “closer cooperation and coordination between various agencies offering services to youth has become a necessity.” Today, we call that Louisiana’s Coordinated System of Care.
Forty-one years ago, most children’s homes were struggling to justify their existence after the orphanage era ended. Harry Ezell had long let go of our orphanage past and was already transitioning Methodist Children’s Home into a center to address the needs of traumatized children. He understood the insidious nature of early childhood trauma and the necessity of addressing its consequences on children and adolescents.
In 1973 Mr. Terrel DeVille became Superintendent of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and for the next 38 years, the Home in Ruston continued pushing forward, added resources, trained staff, developed treatment skills, expanded across the state and created some of Louisiana’s most intensive treatment programs for children and adolescents. Under Mr. DeVille’s leadership, Methodist Children’s Home in Ruston grew from a single site into a multi-service agency which now provides care for children and families across Louisiana. We have a broad footprint. Now we are building the muscles to care for children whose needs are the most difficult to meet.
During 2012 our three residential centers, Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home in Ruston, Methodist Children’s Home of Southwest Louisiana in Sulphur and Methodist Home for Children of Greater New Orleans, are becoming licensed as Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities. We are doing this so we can continue to intensify our ministry to children and families. What our former Superintendent, Rev. Harry Ezell, wrote in 1971 holds true today, “In an apparently increasingly unstable society, in which the incidence of many human ills, particularly mental illness, has skyrocketed, boys and girls in need of our care have also been generally more disturbed.”
I’ll end with this: the next sentence Rev. Ezell wrote after he wrote the paragraph above was, “These factors, along with the constantly rising costs of living, have greatly increased necessary costs.” After investing more than $1,000,000 to transition our three residential centers to Louisiana’s new psychiatric residential treatment facility licensure, we can report, Rev. Ezell had two powerful gifts. He could clearly state the obvious and he could see into the future.
We could not have taken this next step in our ministry without the strong support of those who love children and who support ministry to them. Thank you!