Saturday, March 6, 2004

Children's home to open

Butler will serve its own abused, neglected, addicted youths

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - A former nursing home will reopen in July as Butler County's first children's residential treatment and assessment center.

Instead of being sent out of the county - and sometimes out of state - up to 20 children will be able to stay at the center managed by Talbert House.

"It's such an obvious concept. It makes you wonder: Why didn't we do this earlier?" said Neil Tilow, president and CEO of Talbert House, which provides services in 25 locations in Hamilton, Butler and Warren counties.

The $400,000 pilot project is a collaboration of Butler County's Children Services, Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board, Mental Health Board, Juvenile Court, United Way, Family and Children First Council, and Mental Retardation and Developmentally Disabled Board, Tilow said.

Abused, neglected or severely addicted adolescents will stay at the "family support center" while their needs are determined, said Jann Heffner, Butler County Children Service executive director.

"It's difficult to plan services for a child and family when you have five different assessments from five different agencies. From the beginning, we can do a better job with a comprehensive assessment," said Jolynn Hurwitz, Butler County Family and Children First Council executive director.

Children now are routinely sent to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Mansfield, Indianapolis and other cities. "It ripped kids away from their families," said Heffner, hired a year ago to supervise the troubled children services agency.

Counseling also will be provided at the center, making it possible for parents to participate in a child's treatment, and to prepare for the child's return home, Hurwitz said.

State funding was secured last year by state Rep. Gary Cates, R-West Chester Township.

Tilow would not reveal the site until a lease can be finalized. The 50-bed nursing home will be a coed facility for children ages 9 to 16, Heffner said. The remaining space will be remodeled for offices and meeting rooms, Tilow said.


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