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The Home for Little Wanderers Announces Plans to Sell 1914 Jamaica Plain Campus and Build New School and Residences in Walpole
The time to move the children to better conditioned settings has never been more urgent.
The Home for Little Wanderers announced today plans to sell its Knight Children’s Center (KCC) on South Huntington Avenue in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. The Home’s 1914 building is the agency’s oldest and most well-known program site in Eastern Massachusetts. The campus currently houses a year-round residential and day school treatment program for boys and girls aged 5 to 13 with a wide range of emotional, behavioral, educational and psychiatric needs. The Home will relocate the program to its 166-acre Longview Farm property in Walpole, Massachusetts where it has provided services to youth since 1940. The time to move the children to better conditioned settings has never been more urgent.
"The costs associated with renovating or replacing the Jamaica Plain campus would be prohibitive," said Pam Herbst, Vice-Chair and head of the Real Estate Committee of The Home for Little Wanderers' Board of Directors. "Additionally, we could not ignore the fact that The Home will enjoy a million dollar annualized cost savings by consolidating the KCC program onto the Longview Farm Campus in Walpole."
Does this mean The Home is leaving the City of Boston? No. While the programs that are located at KCC are relocating, it is important to understand that The Home is not leaving the Boston area and intends to remain a preeminent organization in the city for generations to come. Today, with the majority of its community programs based in Boston, The Home’s presence is increasing in new ways as child welfare trends away from residential services.
The move to Walpole involves the construction of a new state-of-the-art special education school and four new residences. The Home has launched its Third Century capital campaign to fund the new project. When complete, the facility will:
"Throughout The Home’s history as a leader in providing child welfare services to some of our State’s most vulnerable children, we’ve always been committed to offering a safe and nurturing environment where youth can reach their full potential," said Joan Wallace-Benjamin, President and CEO of The Home. "This is not the first time in its history that The Home has moved locations to better accommodate the changing needs in child care. When KCC opened in 1914 it was described as unique because it offered everything a child needed to thrive under one roof."
According to John Hailer, Chairman of The Home’s Board of Directors, "All around, this move is positive. The existing Longview campus is located in a bucolic area of Walpole that offers the children numerous opportunities to participate in healthy outdoor educational and recreational activities such as swimming, hiking, gardening, and a Project Adventure ropes course. In line with The Home’s focus on providing a top-level education to the children in its care, the renovated and larger school will employ the most up-to-date technology and teaching methods and have the capability of delivering individualized curricula, depending on a child’s need."
Often referred to in the community as "the orphanage in Jamaica Plain" and "the place that hosts the Toy Drive," The Home will remain an important part of the Boston landscape. It is the largest provider of mental health services in the Boston Public Schools system and operates 15 other Boston-based programs, offering community-based services in homes, hospitals and clinics.
"Despite our best efforts to keep the KCC program in the area, we were unable to redevelop the existing campus to accommodate the size and scope of the services we provide within our budget," said Hailer. "We value our ongoing relationship with the City of Boston and look forward to the continued support of the local elected officials who help us provide for the Commonwealth's children and families as we make this transition."
"This is an exciting time for us," Wallace-Benjamin added. "The Home has developed a plan to fulfill a critical and changing need for expanded community-based programs. Every year our staff of 600 touches the lives of more than 7,000 people through our 13 locations in communities including Boston, Walpole, Waltham, and Plymouth. Jamaica Plain is one chapter in our 200-year history. We look forward to beginning the next."