Ogden children's agency now 100, fears shutdown

Apr 9 2010 - 12:36am

OGDEN -- The Children's Aid Society is 100 years old this year, but workers and volunteers at the adoption agency are too concerned to celebrate the centennial.

They are worried that after a century of success, the down economy will force them to close their doors and they will no longer be able to offer lifelong services, parenting education and counseling.

"I truly believe that everybody is struggling and is uncertain," said Shelley Riley, clinical director at the licensed, nonprofit, nondenominational agency. "I think that's why the donations have really fallen off for everybody."

The agency has followed a long-standing policy of charging only enough to break even on adoptions as well as offering a long list of free community services.

Children's Aid Society relies on the generosity of individuals, businesses, trusts, foundations and grants to provide these services, said agency representatives.

Riley hopes that because the agency has served the community for 10 decades, people will show their appreciation and step up with additional donations to keep the program afloat.

"This isn't Haiti. This isn't someplace else," said Jim Meikle, center director. "I am often surprised to see the needs right here in our own community."

Neighborhood services provided by the agency include offering emergency supplies, such as shampoo, toothpaste and diapers, to those who need them.

Each year, the group provides backpacks and school supplies for area children in need.

It partners with the Breakfast Exchange Club of Ogden to provide shoe coupons to area youths.

The agency also provides a Sub for Santa program for clients it has helped in the past.

Parenting classes are a popular offering. Often those who take the eight-week classes are at risk of losing custody of their children or already have lost custody.

These individuals often are court-ordered to attend the classes.

But the agency's prime mission is to solve problems with unexpected pregnancies. That's why it was established.

"The agency was created 100 years ago by women, the wives of the movers and the shakers of Ogden," Meikle said. "They were concerned about the homeless children and about the single mothers raising children.

"In 1912, they did the first adoption."

At one point, the agency became extremely busy with adoptions.

Meikle said that between 1960 and 1970 the agency placed 3,000 children. Now, he said, a good number of placements for a year is 12.

"We're seeing issues with abortion and children raising children, keeping the children," he said.

"We have young women and men that come to us uncertain about what to do with their pregnancies," Riley said. "We help them solve any crisis they are in. We help them with medical care, finding a safe place to live and food. They can make a safe decision for their baby when they are no longer worried about where their dinner is coming from."

No matter if the birth parents choose to keep their baby or put it up for adoption, staff at the Children's Aid Society work to help them become self-sufficient and improve their lives.

"I think there would be a lot of people who would be sad to hear that it was gone, because they have touched so many lives in the community," said Susan Egbert, a supporter of the agency who was placed there for adoption in 1968.

The Children's Aid Society is housed on the corner of Orchard Avenue and 26th Street.

For information, visit the agency's Web site at casutah.org, e-mail to info@casutah.org or call (801) 393-8671.

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