BILLINGS – Once a treatment center focused on keeping mothers with their children, the Second Chance Home is seeking a fresh start of its own.
It was the flagship program of the Center for Children and Families, but state funding ran dry in 2014. That turned out to be only a temporary lapse, said Eric Halverson, director of operations for the center.
Now the nonprofit organization is seeking the startup funding to reopen.
"The component that's missing is really having the private donation backing," Halverson said. "We really just don't have that in place."
The center has launched a fundraising campaign – $100,000 to get the Second Chance Home back in operation.
The program began in 2008 in a house on South 29th Street. It was a secure, 24-hour monitoring facility that allowed women with substance abuse and neglect problems to receive treatment and housing while living with their children.
In traditional government child protection cases, mothers are often separated from their children during treatment.
"Women that have addiction issues, they lose their motivation when (Child Protective Services) removes their children," said Donna Huston, executive director of the Center for Children and Families.
Huston was the project director when the Second Chance Home opened. The program predated the Center for Children and Families, and the first group consisted of four women and their children.
Through 2014, Halverson said the Second Chance Home prevented 25 children from entering the foster care system, helped 14 babies be born to sober mothers and saved millions in foster care costs.
The program was funded through various channels, according to Halverson. State, local and federal dollars went into the house. But a large piece was dropped from the budget last year.
The state Child and Family Services Division budget wasn't able to renew a demonstration grant that the Second Chance Home utilized since opening. That led to the shuttering of the home. The actual house was converted into a youth home.
About a month ago, Huston learned that Child and Family Services would be able to fund a portion of the program. She said that it was through the work of the agency and area state legislators.
The catch is that the state aid won't be awarded until the Second Chance Home is up and running again with families receiving treatment. That's why they've launched their fundraising effort to get a new location and get the staff hired, trained and certified.
About $100,000 in donations would cover a startup period of up to five months.
Huston said that they've located a house, and there's a need for service.
"We already have a waiting list," she said. "I think we already have about six families ready to go."
Halverson said that they're anxious to get the Second Chance Home operating again. The graduates of the program, as well as their children and families have remained active with them in previous years.
The Center has set up a public crowdfunding campaign online. "Bring Back Second Chance Home" can be found at rally.org.
Once they reach that goal, Halverson said that they can get back to the work of treating not just patients, but families as well.
"When you see the look on the mom's face when she's overcome her task and she's able to interact with her kids in a healthy way, that makes all the difference," he said. "That's the end of that cycle."