This summer, when youth at the Residential Treatment Center in Farmington, MO graduated from care, the staff said goodbye with more hugs and tears than usual. The closing of the center marked the end of one era – and the start of an exciting new one for PCHAS and the region. The agency has launched the PCHAS Service Center in Farmington, which is now providing seven new or proven programs for children and families in Southeast Missouri.
The changes are a response to the comprehensive assessment made by a PCHAS Planning Team which took into consideration the Community Needs Assessment published by the East Missouri Action Agency (EMAA). The EMAA reported that within all eight counties of the region there are 958 homeless children and 558 of them are in St. Francois County. Although the county’s population has been increasing over recent years, so has the poverty rate: More than 35% of children ages 0-5 years live in poverty. Community leaders point to under-employment and a lack of day care as problems that contribute to generational patterns of instability.
Farmington, the county seat, is a natural hub for services and the natural leader in addressing these community needs is PCHAS, says President David Thompson. “We have learned that it is better to prevent a family from breaking apart than to watch as circumstances devolve into a child being removed from home. In a way, PCHAS is returning to its roots: serving the children and families of Farmington.”
Three residential and four community-based programs ensure that children in need can be helped by a myriad of services. Based on their success in Texas, Missouri and Louisiana, several PCHAS programs will expand to Farmington.
The Child and Family Program will pair families with a licensed specialist who will meet them at home to coach parents through crises like poverty, abuse, neglect or homelessness using Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a model for parents with children who have experienced trauma.
The Single Parent Family Program helps children by giving single parents the tools to keep their family together. With three locations in Texas, the program’s expansion to Farmington was launched when two fathers and their children were welcomed to PCHAS cottages (pictured). Notes Regional Director Caren Mell, “We’re providing struggling single parents and their children with housing, financial and emotional support, as well as therapy and services that help them become self-sufficient.”
Southeast Missouri will also benefit from the expansion of PCHAS’ Transitional Living Program for youth and young adults, 18-24, who are capable of living semi-independently but still need a safe haven as they transition from childhood to self-sufficient adulthood. A Transitional Living Level III program provides 24-hour supervision to local youth, 16-21, facing a similar transition but who need more specialized care.
PCHAS’ Therapeutic Mentoring Program promises to be as impactful as it has been elsewhere in Missouri. Mentors will meet weekly with Farmington children, ages 5-19, at home, school or in the community to help them overcome crises or long-term struggles.
While these programs are sure to bring appreciable, positive change to the region, it was clear to PCHAS leaders that there was even more the agency could do to help children with significant needs. An innovative High School Outreach Program is for youth 14 and older who experience housing instability or academic difficulties. It offers after-school supports such as counseling, tutoring, life skills and transportation.
The all-new Community Counseling Program offers mental health services for both children and adults. “That means therapy for some individuals, groups and families,” Mell says. “We will have substance abuse education groups and possibly psychiatric services.”
Local reaction to the PCHAS Service Center has been enthusiastic. “Some say our services are the solution to problems that have been plaguing this area for a long time,” Mell reports. “Folks are really pleased to see us addressing the needs of permanency for children and self-sufficiency for adults.”
Offices for the PCHAS Service Center are currently located at 400 N. Washington. Call staff in Farmington at 573-756-6744 or contact us online.