Maryville Academy started in 1883 as an orphanage called the St. Mary’s Training School for Boys. Over the years, it has expanded its services to include health care and mental health services, family support services and youth development programs.
But now Maryville has become yet another victim of the state’s ongoing budget crisis.
“We are not eliminating residential therapeutic facilities. There will always be a need for those services. But they should be for treatment, not a permanent placement,” DCFS spokesperson Veronica Resa said in a statement. “That’s where we are going. … We are working with these providers to create new capacity where we need it even as we reduce capacity where it is not right for our kids.”
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has cut its residential and institutional care budget by $23 million. As a result, Maryville can no longer house children in need – a tough blow to kids who have already dealt with neglect and abuse as well as mental and emotional disorders.
Maryville Academy has offered residential care services for 133 years. At its peak, it was home to 1,000 boys and girls. It's a painful step to end it, said executive director of Maryville Academy, Sister Catherine Ryan.
“We know that there’s still a need for the children to receive this care – there will always be a need for some residential care,” said Ryan. “Painful also because it’s not about numbers for us; we look into the eyes of the children who are with us and the staff who are caring for them.”
There are about 70 children in Maryville’s care today at three locations. Residential care will end June 30, but Ryan said that they are committed to working with DCFS on the transition.
“I said to them in a letter and in my phone conversations, ‘We will work with you. If it’s not sufficient time for you to find the right place for the children by June 30, we will continue to care for the children if you want us to do so. Until you can find the appropriate place.’ I presume that the department would want to move the children before they start the new school year in September.”
“We’re not going to put any children on the street,” she added.
In a June 2 statement, Resa said, “As of today, Maryville has told us it is not closing. It is discontinuing residential therapeutic services in eight homes, but they are also creating a new program in one of those homes.”
While Maryville might be known primarily for its residential program, it offers many other services and programs, Ryan said, including a crisis nursery, a children’s health care center, an after-school program that currently serves more than 2,000 children per year, a therapeutic day school, a family behavioral health clinic.
“Our mission since 1883 has been to protect children and to help with their healing and education,” said Ryan.
Learn more about the changes at Maryville and its new direction, including the expansion of its early childhood development services.
Jan. 26: The state's largest social service provider is cutting programs and employees because of the state's budget impasse.
Jan. 25: The state's oldest and largest social service agency announces it will eliminate 30 programs and 40 percent of its staff. We bring you more on this and other news out of Springfield with Amanda Vinicky.