By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — The Plummer Home has partnered with a Lowell nonprofit to launch a foster care program, doubling the number of youths it serves.
The Plummer Home began working with Lowell-based Casey Family Services in December, said James Lister, Plummer Home executive director.
With the new foster program staffed and up and running, the Plummer Home is overseeing 16 youths in foster homes and is looking for more families to house foster children, said Lister. In the next three years, they’d like to expand to serve 40 or 50 youths at a time.
Casey Family Services closed Dec. 31 as its parent organization, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, decided to focus on the foundation’s grant efforts and stop providing direct services. The agency transferred 16 of its foster children and some of its staff to the Plummer Home.
The organization was “a key partner” in establishing the Plummer Home’s foster care program, sharing training, resources and its Lowell office facilities, said Lister.
The Plummer Home will be able to use the Lowell office for the remainder of Casey Family Services’ lease, through August 2015, he said.
Established in 1855, the Plummer Home for Boys on Winter Island Road is a group home for at-risk boys ages 13 to 22. Currently, the 16-bed home is full, and the nonprofit also supports two young adults living in apartments in the community.
With the addition of the foster program, Plummer Home has multiple support services under one umbrella, said Lister, offering a “seamless transition” between the different levels — group home, family home or foster home.
“It will be the same agency, same service style, same clinical model,” he said. “... It’s really what makes the most sense for kids.”
This year’s expansion allows the Plummer Home to serve kids in a larger geographical area and a wider range of ages.
“It’s all with the goal for kids to get back to family,” Lister said.
The Plummer Home’s ultimate goal is to connect teens with a permanent family, he said, either through reunification with their own relatives, adoption or lifelong guardianship.
Last year, the Plummer Home began staffing On Point, a juvenile court diversion program in the city’s Point neighborhood. The 90-day program for Salem teens on probation is a collaboration between Salem Juvenile Court, Salem police and the Plummer Home.
The launch of On Point and the organization’s new foster care program means the traditionally boys-only Plummer Home has begun to serve young women — an exciting addition, said Lister.
Families who are interested in becoming foster families through the Plummer Home would be screened, trained and provided support. For more information, visit www.plummerhome.org.