WEST UNION, Ohio – The Wilson Children’s Home in West Union has been an effigy of strength and security for young people for over a century.
Plans to establish the house began on March 6, 1882, when John T. Wilson, an accomplished abolitionist, soldier, and statesman, wrote to county commissioners that he proposed to donate $ 50,000. to the county for its development. On March 10, 1882, Commissioners WS Bottlemen and JR Zile, along with former Sheriff John Taylor and County Auditor JW Shinn, traveled to Tranquility, Ohio, to consult Wilson on his proposal.
In the following March, a site was selected and three administrators were appointed. JW Yost was employed as an architect. On June 20, 1883, JW Whetmore was awarded the construction contract, with the lowest bid being $ 29,910.
The stately structure was completed and handed over to the Trustees on December 5, 1884. At one time there was a laundry room, shrine, barn, and other domestic buildings supported by its brick face.
In spring and summer, fruit orchards bloomed profusely on its soil and the gardens offered abundant produce.
“On March 8, 1888, the documented rules governing the officers and employees of Wilson Children’s Home were established by the board of directors. The creation of WCH took place 82 years before the creation of child protection laws. In 1888, the entire building of over 40 rooms was used for orphan care, ”said Executive Director Jill Wright.
Today, the Adams County Children’s Services offices are located on the first floor of the house, with the youth rooms on the top floor.
“Corporal punishment was allowed in the early years and is now prohibited. Children would receive classes on-site and are now enrolled in local Ohio Valley schools or other educational options that meet the individual needs of each child. The children attended regular Sunday church services in the Chapel of the Wilson Children’s Home. Right now, children attend churches in the community, ”Wright said.
On March 9, 1885, the first children were transferred from the county infirmary.
“During this period, the children’s home provided a safe place for orphans of war soldiers. As child protection laws were implemented in 1974, services for children expanded to include abused and neglected children, ”she said. Today, the home welcomes abused, neglected, dependent, unruly and delinquent children.
“Wilson Children’s Home has expanded its services to children and families as needs have increased,” she said.
Children who reside at Wilson Children’s Home have access to regular medical, dental and eye care, as well as mental health services. Wilson Children’s Home employees have achieved Trauma-informed Care certification, in collaboration with Danielle Poe and the Adams County Health Department. Every child who resides at Wilson Children’s Home who is 14 years old participates in an independent living program. The emphasis is on teaching children skills that are important in their development to become young adults, ”Wright said.
Children are encouraged to find employment in the community and receive lessons in budgeting, cooking, laundry, housekeeping skills, decision making and community service.
“Each child has a service plan tailored to their individual needs. Family, friends, religious leaders, coaches, teachers, probation officers, and any other identified support person are critical to the young person’s success. All residents are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities, which have been shown to increase the likelihood of positive behaviors and choices, ”said Wright.
Unlike the environment of yesteryear, the impact of parental drug use continues to negatively impact modern children and families.
“The increase in the number of children in need of a safe and stable home has increased by 108% over the past five years. More and more infants are being born addicted to drugs, resulting in serious medical and developmental problems, ”Wright said. Likewise, the cost of alternative care has increased by 153%. The cost associated with operating the 20 bed operation is $ 943,604.26.
“The average number of residents per day is 14, or $ 184 / day. An important fact to consider is that for Adams County youth who do not meet Wilson Children’s Home admission criteria are placed in another Ohio residential center. The closest facility to Adams County is in Lawrence County, and the farthest facility is Summit. The cost associated with residential centers outside the county ranges from $ 165 / day to $ 294 / day, ”Wright said.
In 2020, the income needed to operate the house was generated 50% by local funding – with $ 472,993.29 generated by child support and the tax levy – and 50% by state and federal funding. totaling $ 470,610.97.
“The children’s home allows us to serve young people right here in Adams County, close to their families so we don’t have to send them out of the county or state for residential treatment,” said Wright.
Wilson Children’s Home has obtained national accreditation from the Council on Accreditation (COA). Accreditation through COA provides a framework for managing resources, delivering best practices and seeking continuous improvement. The process includes a thorough review of policies, procedures and services to ensure high caliber programs for youth and families.
The accreditation supports the sustainability of the children’s home, encourages its growth and helps it achieve measurable results, Wright said.
The accreditation also puts Wilson Children’s Home on the path to certification by the Ohio Department of Employment and Family Services as a Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP). Under the Federal Family First Preventive Services Act of 2018, residential facilities for foster youth must meet the new QRTP standards to be eligible for federal reimbursement.
“I cannot say enough about the professionalism of our staff, the support of our Children’s Services Board and the confidence of our community in helping the children’s home become nationally accredited. We are thrilled to be able to provide even better services to the youth and families of Adams County, ”said Wright.