To better meet the needs of children and families in Oregon, the boards of directors of Oregon-based ChristieCare and Tennessee-based Youth Villages have agreed to a merger. ChristieCare and Youth Villages, a national nonprofit organization, will announce the merger Thursday during ChristieCare’s Catalyst for Change fundraising luncheon at the Hilton Executive Tower in Portland. Patrick W. Lawler, chief executive officer of Youth Villages, will be the featured speaker at the luncheon. ChristieCare, founded in 1859, serves children statewide in Oregon through residential and educational services based in Clackamas County. The merger will allow for expansion of those residential programs and for the introduction of intensive in-home services to help children and families throughout the state. The merger will bring new resources and support for the Cedar Bough program at the Clackamas River. The program offers culturally responsive residential treatment for Native American children and helps children from the nine tribes native to Oregon, tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest and Native Alaskan children. To guide the program, a Native American advisory council was established. It includes members of the Native American Youth Authority, Native American Rehabilitation Association and the National Indian Child Welfare Association. “Youth Villages is committed to maintaining this program’s focus and to expanding it to help more Native American children who have emotional and behavioral problems,” said Sande Bea Allman, the program’s cultural liaison and a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. “They bring expertise in home- and community-based services. We hope to be able to use those services to help ensure children who receive help at Cedar Bough return home successfully.” A particular goal of the combined organization will be to help decrease the number of children in foster care in Oregon. Lynne Saxton, who has served as chief executive officer of ChristieCare, will be executive director of Youth Villages-ChristieCare of Oregon. “Oregon has nearly twice the average number of children per population in foster care when compared with other states,” Saxton said. “Our goal is to change that through our merger with Youth Villages, one of the country’s leading providers of and advocates for intensive in-home services for prevention and family restoration. Our partnership with Youth Villages will directly result in cost savings to the state of Oregon and in better outcomes for children and families in desperate need of help. This joining of our two great organizations will allow us to do more for children across Oregon.” “We’ve been familiar with ChristieCare’s great work for many years,” Lawler said, “and feel honored to have this opportunity to bring two highly effective organizations together to strengthen help for children and families in Oregon.” While the merger is expected to be finalized June 1, the organizations have already begun a partnership to provide intensive in-home services in Clackamas and Washington counties. Called Oregon Intercept, the program’s goal is to prevent at-risk youth from entering foster care or state custody and to help those children already in out-of-home placements to return home to a family member as quickly as possible. “Working with children and families in their own homes allows our counselors to observe where and when a child struggles and to help the entire family overcome any issues,” Lawler said. “It’s a highly effective program that sets families up for long-term success, and it’s also highly cost effective – typically, it costs only one-third the cost of traditional residential treatment, with much higher long-term success rates.” Youth Villages has helped more than 20,000 children across the country with the Intercept program since 1994, tracking every child to determine long-term results. Data show that more than 80 percent of children and families continue to live successfully at home even two years after completing the intensive in-home program. The program’s success is a direct result of its intensity and of working with children and families in their own homes. Family intervention specialists visit families’ homes a minimum of three times a week at times convenient for the families and are available to the children and families they help 24/7. Like ChristieCare, Youth Villages’ roots are in residential services. The organization has residential campuses in Tennessee and Georgia. In both states, the use of intensive in-home services decreases the time a child must spend in out-of-home care, with an emphasis on strengthening and reuniting families quickly. Named one of the Top 50 Nonprofits to Work For by Nonprofit Times and Best Companies Group in 2010 and 2011, Youth Villages has been recognized by Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World Report, and recently was identified by The White House as one of the nation’s most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations.
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