One house in Centralia is about to give 12 children time to “be a kid again.”
Reliable Enterprises is opening a house in Centralia to house children between 6 and 13 years old who are waiting to be placed in the foster care system. The Anderson House Emergent Placement Foster Home is set to open in April.
“Basically this is kind of a transitional home,” said Development Director Andy Skinner. “They leave their home environment because of an investigation of some sort. They come here to the home, can stabilize for 30 to 60 days, and then they will be referred to another foster home somewhere in the state. Basically, this kind of gives the state a little longer time to find a proper placement for these kids.”
The house will hold up to 12 children at a time. Reliable Enterprises will employ a program manager, six staff members and potentially interns. They are also looking for volunteers to assist staff.
“The foster care system is in kind of dire straits right now,” Skinner said. “Throughout the past 10 years, there has been a 17 percent decrease in the number of foster homes available, and the need for foster homes has increased by 22 percent. So there is a great disparity there, between the number of available homes and beds versus the need for kids, too. So the state kind of came to us and was talking about this need. Especially with our visitation program that we have as well, we understand this is significant. So we’re trying to do what we can to do our part to help some of these kids find a stable home.”
Skinner said that some of the children may have autism, be on the spectrum or have some type of developmental disability. When these children have the opportunity to stay in the Anderson House for a transition period, instead of being immediately placed, there is more time to find a proper placement. Program Manager Duke White will oversee the day-to-day operations of the house.
“We want to build on the strength of the child,” White said. “Each child will be looked at differently. Every person has a different way of thinking, children included.”
White said when the house first opens, his focus will be on training staff. However, White said that he and Skinner are working toward bringing in mental health counselors and adding an educational component.
“Sometimes they get taken out of these homes during horrible situations, or just bad experiences, whatever they may be,” Skinner said. “Sometimes they just need to be kids again, to understand what you’re going through is traumatic. So to ease that trauma, to get them into a home environment with kids their own age, with dedicated mental health counselors and support here, there’s a thorough intake process whenever kids come in. We do full mental health evaluations, also assist with any medical needs they may have, any dietary restrictions, things of that nature, trying to be all-encompassing in the home.”
Skinner said the house was funded through Reliable Enterprises’ own fundraising and community members. Those community partners include Cascade Mental Health, the Lewis County Foster Parent Association, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Althauser, Rayan, Abbarno Law Offices, Valley View Health Clinic, the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound, TwinStar Credit Union, Title Guaranty and Providence Centralia Hospital.
“None of this has been funded by the state yet,” Skinner said. “They will only come in once we have the facility up and running and ready to go. Then they will come in and help support it. All of this has been funded through our own operations or community support. It’s been pretty cool. Our board and our staff has been completely dedicated to get this thing open and running as fast as humanly possible.”
Editor’s Note: The Chronicle is not publishing the location of the Anderson Emergent Placement Foster Home in order to protect the privacy and safety of the children placed there.