Posted April 03, 2012 in Articles
Author: Tonya Sams, The Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Providence House will celebrate the expansion of its West 32nd Street campus with a groundbreaking ceremony at 11 a.m. today.
"We are so excited," said Natalie Leek-Nelson, Providence House president and CEO. "This will allow us to meet state requirements and increase the number of children we care for. This is the largest expansion in Providence history."
Providence House protects Cuyahoga County children who are at risk of being abused or neglected. The nearly $2 million, three-phase project combines all of its administrative offices and residential areas onto one campus.
Some of the residential areas and administrative offices are in Leo's House, across the street from Providence House.
Providence House founder Sister Hope Greener, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson; Joseph Gauntner, Cuyahoga County deputy chief of staff for health and human services; Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman and County Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell were expected to join staff, board members and donors for the event.
Providence House raised the funds from private donors, companies and organizations, as well as the Ohio Department of Mental Health and the City of Cleveland's Vacant Properties Initiative.
Leek-Nelson said child abuse cases were up 25 percent from January 2010 to December 2011, according to the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, a statewide child welfare monitoring organization.
Last year 21,209 calls about suspected child abuse and neglect were made to 216-696-KIDS. Cuyahoga County ranks No. 1 in Ohio for child abuse and neglect cases.
Leek-Nelson said that many parents who take their children to the campus want to end the cycle of abuse and are taking responsibility. Leaving their children in a safe environment allows parents to focus on their own well-being so that they can be good caregivers.
"Ninety-nine percent of the children are reunited with their families," she said. That usually occurs within a month.
Construction is to begin Wednesday. Demolition on six homes on the site has begun. The first stage, which includes a new 7,000-square-foot wing to the Crisis Nursery in Leo's House, is to be completed in November.
Providence House now takes in children up to 6 years old. But this expansion will raise the age limit to 10, allowing siblings to stay together in one room.
This part of the expansion will also help to increase the number of children that Providence House can protect. The number of children who reside there will increase from 12 to 20, which will allow a yearly total of 250 children.
The second part of the expansion includes transforming Providence House into a new Family Intervention Center. The center will help provide parenting education and six months of aftercare once children are returned to their parents.
The final stage includes the creation of the 60,000-square-foot Children and Family Campus with the Children's Village Homes and Education Center. This will allow all the facilities to reside under one roof. That project is expected to be completed by 2020.
Leek-Nelson said that in the last four years, 422 children had to be turned away.
"It's heartbreaking," she said. "These children need this. We have to grow to be able to help them."
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