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Search The Fig Tree's stories of people who make a difference:

Children’s Village gives children stable residence

By Kaye Hult

Children’s Village in Coeur d’Alene is reopening its Miller Home in mid-March, doubling its capacity from 12 to 24 children, said its development director Christina Hull.

Christina Hull
Christina Hull raises support for Children’s Village.

Miller Home was open as a residential treatment center for children with severe mental health and behavior issues from 1996 through 2010.  It relied on funding from the State of Idaho.  When that funding dried up, Miller Home closed.

Miller Home will be the second of two group foster homes on its 15-acre campus at 1350 W. Hanley. 

The first is Moyer Home.  Each home accommodates 12 children.

Anne Fox-Clarkson founded Children’s Village with two other parents, Carol Rankin and Kathy Curran, from Winton Elementary School, where she was principal. 

Anne saw that foster children bounced from home to home to home and school to school to school.  She realized this was not healthy or stable for them.  She promised two students at her school, Donald and Becky, who suffered child abuse, that she would create a home for children like them.

With Carol and Kathy, she set out to create a home that would transport children to their schools, whether in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Athol or Hayden.

They founded Children’s Village in 1983 to serve girls from birth to 18 and boys from birth to 14, Christina said.  After several years of preparation, Moyer Home was opened in 1990.

Becky, the first resident, still returns to visit with her daughter.

“As much as possible, Children’s Village offers children a stable residence, as well as maintaining their connection with their school and extracurricular activities,” she said.

Staff provide transportation in their four vans.

Christina said the village makes sure the children have medical check-ups soon after arriving.  They receive treatment for medical, dental, vision or hearing issues as needed.

Children’s Village provides necessities—clothing, food, books, toys and games.  They do not keep pets, but therapy animals are allowed.

On a typical day, school-age children from preschool up attend class.  Volunteers come in the morning to spend time with younger residents.

Those at home rest in the middle of the day.  Volunteers come again between 2 p.m. and supper.

Therapists and caseworkers spend time with clients.  Mentors help students catch up to their expected learning levels.

During the summer, said Christina, the community makes activities available to the children—theater, concerts, parades, swimming and Silverwood. At Christmas, the Hagadone Corporation takes them on the Christmas cruise to greet Santa.

About half the children come to this group foster home as state placements.  They may stay for years.

The state may give parents a plan for their children to return home, said Christina.  It may include mandates for anger management training or family counseling.  If the parents follow through, their children can rejoin the family.  If not, the goal is for the children to be adopted.

While awaiting adoption, the state and caseworker seek the best placement.  It might be to remain at Children’s Village or a long-term foster family.  Some children want to stay at Children’s Village rather than go to foster care. The average stay is three months.

In 2014, the average stay was longer.  Generally, Children’s Village serves 75 to 100 children a year, but in 2014 they served 50.

When parents realize they cannot care for their children, they bring them to Children’s Village as private placements.  Generally this is because a family is homeless, but there can be other reasons as well.

A grandmother was raising her grandson.  When she needed to have treatments for cancer, Children’s Village took her grandson until she was well enough to care for him again.

Private placements most often come as referrals from a church, school or hospital.  Children’s Village works with parents to calm their fears that they are about to lose their child(ren).

“It’s hard for a family to leave a child,” said Christina.  “We invite them for a tour and explain that ‘we’re here to help while they handle what needs to be handled.’  Then the children go back.”

This facility is often at capacity, so they are excited to re-open Miller Home as a group home. 

When they turn private-placement clients away, they send them with a bag of necessities to help them until they can find another solution.

Christina became development director in July 2014, but has volunteered there since 2004. 

She traveled for a corporate job, but volunteered when she could. 

“I fell in love with these kids!” said Christina, who grew up in Colville.  Her father’s family is from Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene, so they knew of Children’s Village.

In Colville, she volunteered at a local nursing home. 

“I have always had a heart for the vulnerable,” she said.

After high school, she moved to Spokane to manage Crossroads Catering for eight years.  Then she came to Coeur d’Alene to work as a product development specialist at Pita Pit Corporate headquarters, negotiating with food vendors and creating new products.

“About a year and a half ago, I felt called to do something closer to my heart,” she said. 

She prayed about it.

A friend told her that Children’s Village was looking for a development director.  Two weeks later she applied and was hired, bringing skills with fund raising and building relationships.

“What I have lost in salary, I have made up in hugs,” she said. 

“Jesus says, ‘Look after the orphans of the world.’ I feel like it’s our responsibility to do that,” said Christina whose faith has been active since she was saved at the age of eight at an Assembly of God camp in Colville.

“I was blessed with loving, generous parents in a functional family, and I have a heart for those who do not have them,” said Christina, who now attends the Altar Church in Coeur d’Alene.

She fosters relationships with area churches to build support.

“One church a month partners with us,” she said.  “I speak at their worship on the first Sunday.  They put our list of 12 grocery items in their bulletins every Sunday that month.

That provides specific food and helps people in the community learn more about the village.

More than 95 percent of their $827,000 2015 budget is raised through grants, fund-raisers and private donations.  Less than five percent comes from the State.

The staff are mostly women who have a history with Children’s Village. 

Sheilah Stone-Dorame, agency director for Moyer Home, has been there the longest at 23 years. 

Janet Davis recently became executive director with Children’s Village.

Past residents stay in touch.  The facility recently gave a former resident a baby shower.“To some of the children who come here, we’re their family,” said Christina. 

Many past residents volunteer.  The village needs volunteers.

For information, call 208-667-1189 or email cvfoundation@thechildrensvillage.org.





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