We recently held our first “Methodist Family Services” meeting at the OWL Conference Center. This meeting officially organized what was formerly our collection of “home and community-based services” into the new Methodist Family Services division.

Methodist Family Services include our Family Plus Program, the Family Counseling Center, the Outdoor Wilderness Learning Center, the Life Skills Training Center, our Transitional Living Program, and our other pilot work to effect good for children, families and communities in Louisiana.

Methodist Family Services will figure large in our future.

In 2014 we spent roughly $16.5 million to provide residential care for 267 children in our three children’s homes. That works out to about $60,000 per child for residential care. Our three Methodist Children’s Homes provide the most intensive, comprehensive residential care in Louisiana. It is effective and it is costly.

In 2014 we also spent about $2 million to provide community-based care through our Methodist Family Services. Delivering the entire array of Methodist Family Services cost about $100 per individual served.

These are ballpark numbers, but the difference in astounding: $60,000 vs. $100.

I will explain the difference. Think in terms of “Trauma Center” vs. “Early Intervention and Prevention”.

Just as every community requires Emergency Rooms and every region needs a Trauma Center, there is a critical need for the residential care we offer in the bootstrap, heel and toe of our state. Without us, the children for whom we care would be placed out of state. Our three Methodist Children’s Homes have earned reputations for providing highly skilled treatment services others cannot offer. Our care is effective and we continue perfecting intensive residential treatment in Louisiana.

Our first our first century of ministry was the age of residential care. During the next 100 years we will provide exceptional residential care and community-based prevention and early intervention services. Future growth will come from the expansion of Methodist Family Services.

I will not be surprised in the future when our expenditures for Methodist Family Services equal or exceed our current residential expenditures. When that happens, instead of touching 20,000 lives each year as we do now, Methodist Family Services will be touching the lives of nearly 200,000 individuals with the love, grace and peace of God.

For 26 years Louisiana has struggled to maintain an average rank of 49 among the 50 states for child well-being. That puts the welfare of two generations of our children at our nation’s bottom. This cannot continue!

You will see us expanding Methodist Family Services, increasing our advocacy activities on behalf of Louisiana’s children, and continuing to provide the highest quality residential care in our state. For more than century, we have made a difference for Louisiana’s children and families. We intend to make it larger!

The good news for all of us is this: you can help! Actively advocate for children in your community, purposefully pray for our staff and those for whom they care, and become an active supporter of our work in your community. Because, if we’re not there yet, we’re headed your way – and we want to offer all the help we can!

Rick Wheat
President & CEO
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services

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