The Florence Crittenton Home, a center for pregnant adolescents and emotionally disturbed teen-agers, closed last week because of a money shortage.
"This is just the wrong facility for this day and age," said Judy DeLashmutt, president of the board of managers that administered the home and decided to close it. "It's too large. We will try to continue the program, but it must be on a lower scale. We'd like to provide smaller, more specified group homes--for example one, for drug addiction and another for alcoholism."
The board would like to establish a program at a new location in October, DeLashmutt said.
At its closing the home operated on an $489,600 budget and served 17 resident girls. It had 42 staff members, including seven professional psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. Officials of the home said it cost $28,800 a year to provide professional care and maintenance for the home.
The number of girls at the home, located at 4759 Reservoir Rd. NW, has dropped dramatically over the past 15 years. In 1968, there were 423 living there and another 1,000 received some service or referral.
In 1968, most residents were maternity cases, requiring stays of one to three months. Recently, most of the residents have been emotionally disturbed girls, "who required care for one or two years, so fewer girls came through our home," said Delashmutt. "The need for maternity care has decreased substantially."
The home was funded by trusts, donations from the United Way and money raised by 700 volunteers who also offer their services. The Florence Crittenton Bazaar, located in the district, along with volunteer donations, last year raised $100,000. Additional money comes from other area jurisdictions--Baltimore and Fairfax and Montgomery counties-- whose social service agencies refer girls to the home. Although the jurisdictions have not decreased the amount of maney sent to the home, the money was not sufficient. "The cost for our type of care care has increased," said Delashmutt.
Carl Banks, acting chief of the residential placement unit for the D.C. Commission on Social Services, said the home's closing will leave a gap. "We were very distressed when we heard it would close," he said. "We had planned to refer more emotionally disturbed girls to the home."
The Commission contributed $10,800 for each of the four girls from the district who were placed in the home. Furthermore, the Commission in 1981 spent $5,260,037 for residential placement of emotionally handicapped persons.
"The main issue is where a city's responsibility for treatment of emotionally disturbed children begins and ends," said Dr. Anthony Werner, the home's clinical director. "Some local agencies are not willing to pay for this level of treatment."
Werner, who was previously education director for the District's Area A community mental health center, said there is an increasing number of emotionally disturbed and pregnant adolescents "so there is a need for care."
The home's seven-acre property, which is for sale for $4 million, includes three buildings atop a shady hill. The large, three-story red stone Castle View house shadows a rectangular dormitory-school building connected to a small hospital.
The first Florence Crittenton Home, established for "forgotten women" by Charles Crittenton after the death of his 4-year-old daughter, opened in New York City in 1883, and others followed in various cities.
A Florence Crittenton home, primarily for unmarried pregnant women, was established in the District in 1896. In 1971, a program for emotionally disturbed girls 13 to 18 opened and in 1976 the two programs were combined.
Girls at the home were informed May 6 that it would close June 18.
Each of the 17 residents has been referred to a social worker, DeLashmutt said, "but they have not had enough time to find a place for all of them." She said some will be put in temporary shelters, such as halfway houses, which lack educational or psychotherapy programs.
According to Banks' office, of the four girls from the district who were at the home, one is being transferred to the House of Good Shepherd in Baltimore, two are entering foster homes, and another is returning to her original home.
On June 17th, six girls who remained packed their belongings with help from the staff.
One 14-year-old who had been a resident almost two years walked out silently, clutching a small jar with a goldfish inside, a final reminder of the home. She had won an award for overcoming her problems, and wrote, upon being told she had to leave:
"I have been losing people ever since I was 6 years old. Some people would say that I should be used to it. Well actually it's not the many times that you have lost someone, it's the person that you love who has left. It hurts! . . . There are so many tons of mixed feelings inside me now, a lot of thinking and confusion in my head and a lot of fright in my heart! When I heard this place was going to close it was the end of the world for me!
"After I leave here I will probably live as I've learned from this place. If I should fall into the wrong hole, I can always come out underneath the right hole, because I've learned so much from so many people here, until there isn't any question about what's the best decision for me."