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Fowler Center, camp for developmentally disabled, acquired by MCHS Family of Services

Fowler Center, camp for developmentally disabled, acquired by MCHS Family of Services

Posted On : 06/24/21

Fowler Center, camp for developmentally disabled, acquired by MCHS Family of Services

By Miriam Marini/Detroit Free Press

Tucked between acres of farmland in Michigan’s Thumb rests a sanctuary for members of an often-disregarded sect that accounts for about a quarter of the state’s population.

The Fowler Center is a camp in the traditional sense — there’s kayaking, fire pits, and incessant bugs — but its magic comes in its campers, who are all welcome regardless of cognitive or physical ability. Since its founding in 1957, Fowler Center has empowered individuals with developmental disabilities through independent camping.

On first glance, it’s an ordinary campsite with rock climbing, a treehouse, and archery. But with a second look, you’ll see the rock wall is outfitted with a harness attached to a pulley system and bows are jerry-rigged by volunteers to allow campers with limited mobility to partake in traditional activities reimagined.

“For most of us, we’re basically restricted as to what we can and cannot do by society,” said Tammy Watts, 29, of Farmington Hills, who has cerebral palsy and corrective scoliosis and has been a camper at Fowler for more than two decades. “It’s home; it really is our home.”

The camp in Mayville, Michigan, was fully acquired in the spring by the Methodist Children’s Home Society, a child welfare agency based in Redford that provides foster care, adoption, and transitional living assistance. Perry said he hopes the acquisition will expand the camp’s donor base and allow for needed maintenance of facilities, some of which haven’t been updated since the 1970s.

“The growth and the ability to improve and gain independence is amazing, especially when you’re in a relaxed outdoor setting,” said Ken Perry, president of the Fowler Center’s board of directors. “Regardless of ability, any camper can learn from being away from their family and learning independence and growth just by being away from their family.”

Kevin Roach, CEO Of the Methodist Children’s Home Society, said the acquisition has the potential to benefit the children and families the home serves.

“It just seemed to be a hand-in-glove fit where we saw this extraordinary opportunity to partner with an amazing organization that has dedicated, decade after decade to serving young people, families, and adults of all different abilities,” said Kevin Roach, CEO of the Methodist Children’s Home Society.

Where anything’s possible

At Fowler, the answer isn’t “No, you can’t,” it’s, “Let’s make it happen.”

The camp serves as an escape for disabled people, with the youngest of the campers being 6 years old, who are restricted from doing certain activities in their daily lives due to their disability. Year-round, programs focus on removing barriers to allow campers to participate in any activity they desire, according to their individual ability level.

For example, horse riding. Fowler Center has an indoor equestrian center where campers can ride horses that are specially trained to ignore sudden sounds or squirmy riders — to name a few of their feats — and equipped with a pad and surcingle rather than a saddle to make riding more comfortable.

“Everyone deserves it,” said camp director Lynn Seeloff, who started at the camp as a volunteer in 2004, while giving a tour of the campsite’s many attractions. “This is where they come to have fun and be in a safe environment where their family knows they’re going to be cared for and knows that they’re safe.”

His annual week at Fowler is something Terreance Tate, 32, looks forward to all year, and it’s a chance for his father to take a break from caring for him. Camp gives Tate time to practice his archery and take his mind off of his mother’s death.

“If I didn’t have this place to come to, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself,” said Tate, who was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. “It’s like my third home.”

The camp serves a double benefit: Campers get a chance at true independence and families who serve as lifelong caregivers are allowed stress-free time off. As respite care is typically covered by Medicare, time away at camp often comes cost-free to families — saving them nearly $2,000 a week.

The break is a welcome relief for the Watts family and for Tammy, it’s a chance to stop having to rely on others, even for mundane everyday tasks like opening the door.

“You’re on someone else’s time all the time,” she said.

The toll of caregiving for a loved one can have a ripple effect on families, as every aspect of one’s life is shaped by another’s needs. Whether it’s time to run errands or do a special outing with the other children who don’t receive as much attention, camping at Fowler grants caregivers a complete break.

“Taking care of somebody 24/7 without any reprieve is just mentally and physically exhausting,” said Seeloff. “You can’t give from a glass that’s empty, so they have to be able to take care of themselves as well if they want to be able to take care of their loved ones.”

Climbing toward the future

The operations of the Fowler Center are now fully MCHS’s responsibility, as part of the acquisition that has been in the works since winter 2019. The two nonprofits envision a big future for the 200-acre campsite that could grow to serve a wider population.

“When you have two organizations who have a rich and proud history of over 170 years combined history of serving some of the most vulnerable populations in Michigan, and really those who don’t necessarily get all the opportunities afforded to them that their counterparts who don’t have the same challenges have,” Roach said. “How could we work together to keep expanding the impact that they (Fowler Center) certainly had.”

Part of this expansion includes serving both organizations’ audiences and underserved populations to meet the camp’s potential, which can host more than 100 people at once, and possibly starting day programming.

“Any child should have a Fowler Center experience regardless of their ability and so we are touching a small sliver of that population,” Roach said. “An overnight experience at the Fowler Center is so deeply transformative, it’s beyond just a typical summer day camp program because of the relationships and life skills that can be developed and the confidence and self-esteem booster you get when you’re able to conquer challenges.”

Beyond acting as a chance at independence, the Fowler Center can serve as a refuge from city life and the confines of suburbia — a privilege not many living in the metro Detroit area have access to.

“I want to be on the bus when those first Methodist Children’s Home Society kids come up to the Fowler Center,” Perry said, “because for many of these individuals who live in the inner city, they’ve never seen a farm, cattle, a lake, the beauty of outdoors, they’ve never gone up into a treehouse.

“That’s why this partnership is so important.”

Click HERE to read the full story on Detroit Free Press

Methodist Children’s Home Society Earns Re-accreditation From The Council On Accreditation

Methodist Children’s Home Society Earns Re-accreditation From The Council On Accreditation

REDFORD, Michigan (November 12, 2018) – Methodist Children’s Home Society (MCHS) today announced it has earned re-accreditation from the Council On Accreditation (COA). COA is an international, independent, nonprofit accreditor of the full continuum of community-based behavioral health care and human service organizations.

The COA accreditation process involves a detailed review and analysis of both an organization’s administrative operations and its service delivery practices. All are measured against national standards of best practice . These standards emphasize services that are accessible, appropriate, culturally responsive, evidence-based and outcomes-oriented. In addition, they confirm a skilled and supported workforce is providing all required services, and that all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.

“Earning our COA re-accreditation demonstrates MCHS’s dedication to the children we are entrusted with,” said Kevin Roach, CEO, Methodist Children’s Home Society. “I’m grateful to our dedicated staff who worked extremely hard to earn this prestigious accreditation.”

The accreditation process took approximately 12-to-18 months to complete. During the evaluation, MCHS’s processes and programs underwent an in-depth review against current best practice standards, an on-site visit by an evaluation team, and a review of findings by the accrediting body. At the end of the extensive evaluation COA was highly impressed with MCHS and extended them its full four-year accreditation.

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About Methodist Children’s Home Society

For more than 100 years, Methodist Children’s Home Society (MCHS), a nonprofit organization, has offered foster care and adoption placement, residential treatment and transitional living programs for children who have survived child abuse and neglect. MCHS finds safe, caring homes for children across southeast Michigan and also provides vital therapies, educational services and life skills training. Located in Redford, Mich., MCHS is a secular 501(c)(3) organization, proudly serving children and families of every creed, background and lifestyle.

Michigan must remedy child abuse

Michigan must remedy child abuse

Detroit New Opinion, 4/30/19

Click here to read the full story on The Detroit News’ site.

Child abuse is a nationwide health crisis. Most recent data shows that, across the U.S., a staggering 676,000 children are victims – numbers that are increasing.

In Michigan, as we continue efforts toward sustained economic recovery and where strong families are vital, the picture is bleaker. From 2010-2016, the rate of abuse rose 30 percent to nearly 40,000 victims each year, while the number of children actually decreased. This, dramatically higher than the national average, places us 46th in child safety.

More alarming: Michigan ranks 50th (last) where abuse leads to fatalities of infants under the age of 1. We’re moving in the wrong direction.

Child abuse and neglect take on a multitude of faces: maltreatment, homelessness, food insecurity, academic difficulty and many more maladies. Poverty effectuates and exacerbates. Today, the opioid epidemic brings a new stark reality: parental drug abuse.

In 2017, 49,000 people died from opioid abuse in this country. Experts estimate that number skyrocketed to 72,000 in 2018. In turn, 1 of every 3 children is now entering the foster care system due to parental drug misuse.

There are no simple solutions yet several to consider. One is reporting. We must know how extensive the problem is. States may voluntarily submit information on child abuse to the national database but reporting is not mandatory. We need consistency, transparency, accuracy – who, what, when, where and why. Only then can we allocate resources necessary to prevent, remedy or end the problem.

To tangibly affect the lives of these children and their families, there must also be a commitment by government to funding child abuse prevention programs. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), up for reauthorization with Congress, currently faces an uncertain future. Such funding must be maintained if not increased and improved upon. Moreover, if we are declaring war on opioids, let’s put a plan in place and money behind it. We either fund now or pay dearly later.

And there needs to be a coalition of community that brings together all sectors – faith based, business, education, legal, philanthropic, nonprofit and civic government – to mobilize, build and maintain strong families and safe communities. Methodist Children’s Home Society (MCHS) has opened a new satellite office in Detroit to expand our child abuse prevention and substance abuse programs throughout the community. This, in addition to providing foster care and adoption services. We all must play a role.

I would suggest a mandate for each of us to discuss, understand and tackle the issues and effect change. With more knowledge and resources, we can be better together. We talk a lot about the need for a strong, skilled, competitive workforce – to fill jobs, fix roads and move our economy forward. Yet, we are faced with the prospect of raising a generation of children who are emotionally, physically and mentally unable to function let alone succeed. Nelson Mandela put it best: “The true character of society is revealed in how it treats its children.”

Kevin Roach is CEO of Methodist Children’s Home Society, with facilities in Detroit and Redford.

MCHS Family of Services takes over former Catholic Social Services

MCHS Family of Services takes over former Catholic Social Services

Children 2

Detroit News on CSSWC Acquisition, 7/30/19

Click here to read the full story on the Detroit News site.

By Neal Rubin

Redford Township — An ability to find the human element in data points helped lead MCHS Family of Services to its acquisition of Community Social Services of Wayne County, according to the president and CEO of the newly combined entity.

Kevin Roach, who has run MCHS since 2015, said struggles in that area and others prompted CSS to approach his organization six months ago to explore joining forces.

“We take a lot of pride in our data collection and analysis,” Roach said after the deal was announced Monday. “Nonprofits, in general, are being challenged to produce better outcomes, and have the data to really support who’s being served, how they’re being served, and the benefits of that service.”

The combined organization, which will keep the MCHS Family of Services name, is among the larger providers of foster care in Southeast Michigan.

Methodist had recently opened a Detroit office after 102 years of operating exclusively from Redford Township, where it houses 70 children year-round. In Detroit, it added programs dealing with substance abuse and the prevention of child abuse.

CSS, known as Catholic Social Services until a spinoff in 2013, has worked in literacy, with seniors, and with teen parents, areas that had not been focuses for MCHS.

“It’s hand in glove in terms of the programs and services CSS offers,” Roach said. “What we want to do, and what CSS has been doing, is not wait for the child to end up in the system. We’re interested in reaching the child well beforehand and working with the family.”

A small majority of the 2,500 people the new organization will serve this year came via CSS, he said, explaining that “because MCHS had a much more intense focus, its numbers are a little smaller.”

The 150 current employees of Methodist will keep their jobs, he said. “We are still determining” how many of the 50 CSS employees will be retained.

Chuck Jackson, who has been the president and CEO of CSS, will become the chief strategy officer at MCHS.

The more prosperous of the two agencies, Methodist has assets of $78.5 million compared to about $2.6 million for CSS. In the merger, Roach said, Methodist acquires all of CSS’ assets, including a 36,000-square-foot-building near the New Center that has been for sale at a list price of $1.4 million.

CSS recently lost a $140,000 grant from United Way for Southeastern Michigan — a casualty, Roach said, of its need for better data collection.

“United Way’s RFP processes are intended to be objective,” said Eric Davis, vice president of basic needs, health and outreach for United Way. “Our goal always is to create the most impact given finite resources.

“The organization utilizes data in its decision making to ensure we are appropriately stewarding donor dollars.”

For its part, Roach said, Methodist “tackles anything and everything in relation to our children. It’s similar to what Apple and Amazon do to understand the customers and get a better return on our investment.”

MCHS Family of Services acquires Community Social Services of Wayne County

MCHS Family of Services acquires Community Social Services of Wayne County

Chuck Jackson, CSSWC CEO (left) and Kevin Roach, MCHS CEO

Photograph by Larry Peplin for Crain’s Detroit Business

Crain’s Detroit Business on CSSWC Acquisition, 7/29/19

Click here to read the full story on the Crain’s Detroit Business site.

By Sherri Welch

Redford Township-based MCHS Family of Services has acquired Community Social Services of Wayne County, creating one of the largest foster-care providers in the region, according to the two agencies.

The deal, six months in the making, ensures CSS foster care, substance abuse, transitional living for young mothers and senior services will continue, as the longstanding nonprofit with earlier ties to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit shuts down its own operations.

The deal reflects increasing pressures on social service nonprofits to increase collaboration and add capacity for data reporting that government and other funders are increasingly requiring.

The addition of CSS programs aligns with Methodist’s new strategic plan to offer services for the whole family, rather than just children, in a bid to keep families together and prevent circumstances that lead to orphaned and homeless children, President and CEO Kevin Roach said.

Both organizations offer foster care. CSS also brings substance abuse, transitional living for pregnant and young mothers, and senior services.

Methodist will begin offering those services along with the merged foster care, residential care, adoption and independent living services it has long offered and new substance abuse services it launched in Detroit early this year.

The combined nonprofit will serve 2,500 children and families a year, including 300 children in direct foster care.

Some number of the roughly 50 employees remaining at CSS will be offered positions at Methodist as it takes over operation of the programs. But an undetermined number of positions will be consolidated with its own 150 employees, Roach said.

While there are no plans for CSS directors to join Methodist’s board, CSS President and CEO William “Chuck” Jackson will join Methodist as chief strategy officer.

“Over the years, (CSS) had just simply not done the work it needed to remain competitive,” Jackson said.

CSS operated for 67 years as Catholic Social Services of Wayne County until 2013, when it broke from the Archdiocese of Detroit amid a consolidation of Catholic charities in the region.

Years of lack of investment in infrastructure, especially around data collection to measure impact, hampered CSS’ ability to remain competitive in bidding for contracts and grants, Jackson said. That led to the loss of a contract worth more than $500,000 with the Michigan Department of Corrections in 2017, and more recently, a $140,000 grant from United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Jackson said. CSS tried to cut its costs by reducing employees and putting one of its two buildings up for sale, but it still wasn’t able to make the needed investments in its operations.

“It came down to a desire to increase our impact … and a recognition that we were not able to be able to do that on our own,” Jackson said.

Data collection and evaluation has not historically been a part of the way social services agencies do business, said Liz Gordillo, a program manager at Grand Valley State University’s Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

But social services agencies and the nonprofit sector as a whole are increasingly facing demands from government, foundation funders and donors for more information on where dollars are being spent and what impact they have, she said.

At the same time, funders and donors are directing more of their support directly to programs rather than infrastructure or capacity building, with fewer unrestricted dollars to use for infrastructure investment, said Gordillo.

“This is a new way of doing business for social services agencies in the nonprofit sector, reporting and using evaluation for learning within your organization, having standardized evaluation and processes to collect and report data to secure new funding,” she said.

The addition of CSS’s programs builds on new child-abuse-prevention and substance-abuse services that Methodist launched early this year at Durfee Innovation Society, the former school in central Detroit renovated by the nonprofit Life Remodeled.

“Abuse and neglect doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Roach said.

“We knew it was critical if we were going to help these children … we had to take care of the entire family.”

Methodist and CSS saw that together, they could have a larger impact on strengthening those families, he said. The center at 1600 Blaine in Detroit will be transferred to Methodist Children’s Home as part of the merger.

Photograph by Larry Peplin for Crain’s Detroit Business

Through the deal completed July 12, CSS transferred its programs, contracts and an apartment building at 1600 Blaine St. in Detroit, which provides transitional housing for previously homeless mothers, to Methodist Children’s. No money changed hands in the sale.

Methodist also will take on a month-to-month lease CSS had in Dearborn as a space to provide some outpatient substance abuse services. Other substance abuse programs, along with foster care, and senior programs transferred by CSS will now be offered at Methodist Redford and Durfee sites, Roach said.

The combined organization will operate on an annual budget of just under $15 million.

Methodist, which has been in operation since 1917, holds an investment portfolio that provides distributions to support its operations.

According to its audited financial statement, which include the results of its investment portfolio as well as operations, it had $78.5 million in net assets at the end of 2018.

On an operational basis, it had $8.3 million in non-investment, operating revenue in 2018, up about $800,000 from the year before with increases in government funding and contributions. Its expenses for 2018 were $8.8 million, up from about $8.5 million in 2017.

Revenue for CSS dropped to $4.57 million in its fiscal 2018 ended June 30, down from $5.3 million the year before. It reported a loss of $436,962, following near-break-even results of just under $55,000 over expenses in 2017. Its net assets totaled $2.58 million at year’s end, down from $3.02 million in 2017.

The social services nonprofit put its main location, a 35,000-square-foot building at 9851 Hamilton Ave., northwest of Detroit’s New Center area, up for sale before the Methodist deal. The move was one way CSS hoped to generate cash to reinvest in its infrastructure, Jackson said.

CSS expects to close in August on the sale of that building. Jackson declined to identify the buyer, citing a confidentiality agreement, but said he expects the sale will bring $700,000-$900,000 when completed.

With more programs under its management, Methodist Home is now looking at a few other locations in Detroit to lease or buy, Roach said.

“We truly believe that we can further grow and expand these programs and services with our treatment model in treating the whole child and family unit and tackling challenges they face, such as grandparents raising their grandchildren, substance abuse, and mental health.”

Methodist Children’s Home Society Acquires Community Social Services of Wayne County

Methodist Children’s Home Society Acquires Community Social Services of Wayne County

IMG_3771 edited

DBusiness on CSSWC Acquisition, 7/29/19

Click here to read the full story on the DBusiness site.

By Tim Keenan

Redford Township’s Methodist Children’s Home Society (MCHS) has acquired Detroit’s Community Social Services of Wayne County (CSSWC), bringing together two organizations with nearly 200 years of combined experience serving Michigan’s underserved children.

The acquisition, according to the entities, is an opportunity to better strengthen programs and services, impacting more children and families through individualized and innovative programming.

“Our focus since we initially began discussions was how to enhance our programs and better serve our families and ultimately, our community,” says Kevin Roach, CEO of MCHS. “As we explored this unique opportunity to partner with such a great organization, it became clear that together, we’d be able to support and serve even more families throughout the region.”

CSSWC, with 73 years of rebuilding broken lives in Detroit, comes under the wing of MCHS, with more than 102 years of providing safety and stability to Michigan’s most vulnerable children. Roach will stay on as CEO after the acquisition, while William “Chuck” Jackson, CEO of CSSWC, will join as a senior executive.

Existing programs will see an uptick in foster care placement, adoption services, residential care, housing services for at-risk mothers, senior services, substance abuse, and community relations. Plans to boost education and independent living programs already are in motion. Early this year, MCHS opened offices in Detroit as part of its strategic plan to reach and serve more families.

The acquisition makes MCHS one of the largest foster care and adoption agencies in Michigan, with an immediate impact on more than 2,500 individuals in the current care of both groups.

MCHS will lead the acquisition in all facets including human resources, finance, programming, development, and communications. Human resources will find the best fit for each role moving forward, with many staff members from CSSWC staying on in either their current or new roles.

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