MANSFIELD -- The Cherry Hill Youth Home is a unique new residential facility, but inside, it looks pretty much like an average home. There are comfy navy coaches in the living room and a wood dining table. The kitchen has all the necessary equipment, plus bright blue utensils and floor mats adorned with cheerful cartoon owls.
The Cherry Hill Youth Home is an intermediate care facility that resulted from a partnership between Richland Newhope and I Am Boundless, Inc., an organization based in Franklin County.
The home will serve up to four multi-system youth between the ages of 14 and 21.
These individuals are often served by multiple public systems, including the board of developmental disabilities, mental health board, jobs and family services or even the juvenile court system.
Michele Weiss, superintendent of Richland Newhope, said that support for multi-system youth is one of the biggest needs in Richland County. The facility at Cherry Hill is the first of its kind in the area.
“It's the only one in this geographic area and one of the few in the state of Ohio,” Weiss said. “Boundless runs a similar home in Franklin County and there's a couple other county boards across the state that are just starting to develop some type of multi-system service, but this is really on the forefront.”
The home was formerly an intermediate care facility run by the Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities. When the board felt it was no longer being used to its full capacity, board members began looking for a partner agency to help transform into a multi-stem youth home.
According to Chris Wolf, chief operations officer of I Am Boundless, the individuals living at Cherry Hill will all have intellectual or developmental disabilities, and may also be facing behavioral or mental-health issues.
I Am Boundless will provide around-the-clock care from trained staff who specialize in services, including psychiatry, group therapy, family therapy, care coordination, case management, community-based counseling, and behavior consultation. The goal of the organization is to prepare its residents for adulthood by focusing on their specific needs.
“In our program we are trying to make sure that we’re focusing on youth coming in that have the ability to leave and go back to a more community based setting -- out into the community, back to their families,” Wolf said.
Some residents will be learning basic living skills and personal hygiene. Others may work on addressing behavioral issues or improving communication.
“For folks that might have limited communication skills, behavior tends to be the world that they communicate ... behavior is a way of trying to get something, trying to meet a need,” Wolf said. “What we need to do is work with the adolescents here so they’re learning other ways to communicate their needs.”
Living in a home with four other people will be a chance for residents to sharpen their social skills.
“They’ll need to understand, how do I work with other folks? How do I live with other folks? How do I engage the other folks that aren’t just family?” Wolf added. “That's a whole other skill set.”