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Annie Malone closes residential treatment facility for youths

Annie Malone closes residential treatment facility for youths

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Historical photo of the Annie Malone organization

The St. Louis Colored Orphans Home — as the Annie Malone Children and Family Services Center was originally known — is shown at 2612 Goode Avenue in the 1920s. The building, its third location, opened in 1922. Annie Malone, longtime chairwoman of its board, had donated $10,000 for its construction. The board renamed the home in her honor in 1946. The street now is called Annie Malone Drive. Post-Dispatch file photo

ST. LOUIS — A residential treatment center run by the Annie Malone Children and Family Services Center has closed, according to its chief executive officer, Sara Lahman.

The closure of the site referred to as Annie’s Place, 5355 Page Boulevard, was voluntary, Lahman said.

It follows a decision by the state in April to suspend the intake of troubled youths at the site because of staffing and other concerns, Department of Social Services officials said at the time.

That department’s children’s division also released a statement on Wednesday announcing the closure of the residential center.

But Lahman said that the suspension did not play a factor in the organization’s decision to close.

“We just decided as an agency and as a board with the pandemic and the challenges that it brought that it was a good time to evaluate what we’re putting in the community,” Lahman said. “It made more sense to transition into more preventive services and putting our efforts there.”

The organization has tended to the social and education needs of children and families in crisis and at risk throughout St. Louis since 1988.

The Page Boulevard facility will now house the Emerson Academy Therapeutic Schools, which help children with severe mental and behavioral challenges, currently at 4145 Kennerly Avenue, she said. Annie Malone also will continue operations at its crisis center, which has about 12 beds and serves as a temporary shelter.

Lahman said the facility had stopped taking in youths prior to the suspension and at the time of its closing housed 10 youths who were taken to foster homes.

When the state suspended intake at the residential center in April, officials cited staffing and other concerns. Lahman said the organization previously had self-reported the staffing issues, particularly because the facility at one time had more than 20 positive COVID-19 cases.

The center had been given a “corrective action plan” by the state in March related to the ratio of staff to clients, lack of supervision within those ratios and failing to report a critical incident within regulatory time, according to state records. Lahman said Wednesday that the center had completed the plan.

Representatives from the children’s division of the Department of Social Services did not immediately return calls for comment.

The organization, which has its headquarters in the Ville neighborhood, had cited the need for financial help at the beginning of the pandemic, noting that school shutdowns had put budgetary pressure on the agency and added stress on families who needed help.

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