Fred and Clara Eckert never had children, but their legacy for the last 45 years has been helping young people.

That’s going to continue as, starting Monday, March 2, the Fred and Clara Eckert Youth Home starts a new program — residential treatment for adolescents with substance abuse problems.

The category that Eckert Home had been licensed under for decades — residential child care facilities — was eliminated in 2019. So what’s next?

“In preparation for what Eckert was going to be, many programs were explored,” Kerri Klein, program director.

The state put out a request for proposals for a residential treatment facility for young people dealing with addiction, and that was one of the programs that staff members explored. In April, Leah Hoffman was hired as clinical director of the program.

“All I’ve worked on since I’ve been here was writing and submitting our proposal to the State and program development,” she said.

The program is somewhat different. It’s focused on trauma-informed care, a treatment philosophy that emphasizes safety and works to understand behavior through the lens of trauma someone experienced.

“That’s an important part of this RFP that we’re doing with the state,” Klein said.

Another important part is that the facility offers residential treatment.

Eckert Youth Homes is actually licensed to provide inpatient and outpatient care, but is focused on residential for now.

“That’s the highest need,” Klein said, explaining that other providers already offer outpatient care around the state.

For Hoffman, the decision to offer residential treatment made sense.

“One thing Eckert really had nailed down was residential care,” she said.

That meant finding people to take over the treatment part of the program.

“Eckert already had great house staff,” Hoffman said, “and now we’ve had to add some specialized staff.”

Families are going to be involved with the program, even though Eckert will accept students from anywhere in the state.

Klein said family involvement was key, and a combination of in-person visits and technology will make that possible.

There hasn’t just been a shift in the program.

One of the two buildings the facility uses has been remodeled with new paint, new furniture and other updates.

There’s room for eight adolescents to start. They’ll live in the facility and there’s a tutor and educational coordinator on staff to keep students on track academically, where possible.

Eckert Youth Homes officially opens its new program Monday, March 2, with an open house from noon to 6 p.m. There will be a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m.

For more information about the facility, call 701-572-6181.

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