Children entered the Home with more serious social and psychological conditions stemming from family problems that were more resistant to change, including violence, homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, and unemployment. Many of the children were preadolescents and 3 of 4 referrals were for boys.
With emphasis on permanent placement, families were given counseling in parenting skills such as budgeting and nutrition. Nonetheless, it was increasingly difficult to place older children, minorities, and those with physical and behavioral problems. Therefore, recreation, job training, and other staff organized activities emphasized social and scholastic competence leading toward the goal of ultimate self-sufficiency. When children were discharged, financial aid was provided for basic needs like food, furniture, and a telephone. At least six months of transitional follow-up care was also rendered, in keeping with the philosophy that it is important to assist parents and teach them, rather than to substitute for them and assume their responsibility.
In 1980, the Margaret Race Memorial Garden, with secluded benches shaded by flowering trees, was dedicated. A picnic pavilion and playground built by children and staff were both added in 1981. More than 6,000 children had been cared for by this time, and the budget was $1 million, including $55,000 from the annual campaign. By 1988, those figures were $2 million and $80,000, respectively.
A cottage for 12 girls was built on the grounds in 1984, and in 1987 an agency-operated boarding home in LaGrange was opened to prepare girls for independent living.
By decade’s end, staff members were availing themselves of the Home’s tuition assistance program for advanced study in their work-related fields.