A community meeting was held on Thursday, November 5th, at Municipal Hall in downtown Anthony. This meeting was facilitated by the Hospital District No. 6 Board and chairperson Martha Hadsall to discuss the potential sale of the Anthony Medical Center facility to a group foster home company named Aahn’s Place.
The idea of bringing a group foster home to Anthony and using the vacant medical center was the idea of an Anthony community member and his friend, Judge Kevin Smith. Judge Smith has many years of experience working with youth in the courts and foster care programs.
Aahn’s Place has its home location in Wellington, operating the facility going on almost 3 years. The proposed facility would house youth ages 12-18 who have been placed in foster care by the courts. Present at the meeting on behalf of Aahn’s was its founder Derrick Prichard and his business partner Hamendra Bhakta. Derrick is a licensed marriage and family therapist and counselor who is also the Executive Director of New Perspectives Counseling Center.
The home expects to house 20-30 residents both boys and girls. Prichard explained there would be slow gradual ramp up to this number over a period of months. Prichard explained their selection process was specific to the types of youth they felt their team could be successful with, not every candidate submitted would be accepted. He also emphasized this home is not a detention center. Many of the youth will have emotional and behavioral challenges.
The home is expecting to employ approximately 20-30 direct care workers who provide coverage and oversight to residents 24 hours 7 days a week. This staff will include licensed staff such as counselors, nurses, and case managers. The estimated payroll will be $50,000-$60,000 per month.
Prichard acknowledged the challenge of finding all the staff they would need and building a stable workforce. However, he believed his model would attract applicants and build jobs in the community.
Anthony police department leadership brought up several concerns regarding the increased stress this program would place on the already limited staff. The numbers of police response calls to the Wellington Aahn’s Place location were shared with the audience. Police leadership pointed out the lack of resources to respond appropriately. The police department appears to have at least 3 open positions with Department leadership indicating there were only 3 police officers currently staffing the needs of Anthony.
Prichard acknowledged the challenges of law enforcement. He also acknowledged there were growing pains in Wellington with the need for police to respond often to various events. He also pointed out that many of the calls to the police were required by the state as part of the group home’s licensure. Prichard pledged to work with local law enforcement to possibly have an on-site officer to help with these issues as well as work with the state to possibly modify the regulations to make them more amenable to a group home functioning in a smaller community. Data shared at the meeting seemed to indicate a moderate reduction in police responses since Aahn’s first year of operation approximately 3 years ago.
Other concerns expressed included the stress these children would potentially bring on the school system. School district leaders were in the audience. There were great community questions both in the audience and from online participants. There were expressions of both support and concern for bringing the program into town.
There were approximately 45-50 participants at Municipal Hall with about the same number of online participants. Community members who were unable to attend or listen in can go to YouTube and view the meeting by going to the following links:
Due to the length of the meeting, we had to split it into 3 links. Be sure to view all three links in the order listed to see the full meeting.
Community members who wish to express their view on bringing the group foster home to Anthony are encouraged to email Anthonycampus@pattersonhc.org