— THE ISSUE:Closing Logansport’s Morningstar Girls Home.
OUR VIEW:It’s too early to gauge whether changes in state policy will have an impact on girls who might have been assigned there.
Emmaus Mission Center made the right call in shutting down Logansport’s Morningstar Girls Home.
Frankly, it had no choice.
Recent funding cuts and a decline in the number of girls assigned to the facility meant the home would have been operating at a loss, thus threatening the mission center’s other programs.
Morningstar is not alone. Two other Indiana agencies have closed their residential or foster care programs since new state funding rates were announced late last year, and dozens of others are awaiting the results of appeals they filed to see those rates increased.
The decision to close the girls home had been coming for some time. Last spring, in fact, Emmaus announced the facility would close by the end of May, but the center’s board later decided to keep the doors open through the end of the year.
The girls home moved in September to a building at 425 Ninth St., but the increased placements supporters hoped the change would generate didn’t come, and then late last year, the Indiana Department of Child Services announced the cut in funding.
Jason Mitchell, executive director of the mission center, described the decision to close the girls home as “sickening.” He and others say they believe the home had made a difference in the lives of the girls assigned there.
The change is part of an initiative called Safely Home Families First. The idea is to keep children in their homes if possible and then, if they must be moved, to place them with relatives or in a foster home. A facility such as Morningstar is the final option, and as a result, facilities across the state are seeing fewer placements.
Two weeks ago, the South Bend Tribune reported that some in the child protection system see the change strictly as a cost-cutting move.
The state notes that those critics represent the very organizations whose finances have suffered. Officials acknowledge the state is saving money, but they insist the change is not about dollars but what’s best for the kids.
One thing is clear: The state’s juvenile judges now have fewer options for girls such as those who were once assigned to Morningstar.
The question is what will happen to those kids, and the answer is that only time will tell.