United Homes for Children (UHFC) was a small network of Foster Homes located in Hull, Randolph, Burlington, Amesbury, Brockton, and Billerica, working for the Massachusetts Foster Care system. The services of the network expanded after a residential foster care agency located in Connecticut closed and was returning children to their home state of Massachusetts for care. UHFC was selected to receive the children and use in-home therapeutic care as an alternative to residential placement. Through the use of clinical intervention, UHFC was able to stabilize the behavior of the children and build trust between the children and foster parents. UHFC found the key to its success was being able to build relationships.
UHFC formalized its organizational structure and applied to the Internal Revenue for 501(c)3 status. Upon receiving approval, UHFC petitioned to become a state vendor, eligible to enter into a contractual relationship as a Foster Care provider. Rev. Richardson became its first Executive Director, and Mrs. Richardson its first Program Director.
UHFC expanded recruitment to include homes in both urban and suburban neighborhoods. The agency learned that moving children out of their community, unless safety was a factor, was not always the best way to achieve reunification or other forms of permanency. UHFC continued to grow and learn from its experience in the treatment of children coming from situations of neglect and/or abuse. The data was indicating that if reunification was not possible, then acceptable alternatives were, such as Kinship Placement, Guardianship, or Adoption. To maintain continuity in the placement process, UHFC applied for, and received, a license to become an Adoption Agency as well as a Foster Care Agency.
UHFC opened its first independent office in Tewksbury, MA. Prior to this, the office was located in the Richardsons' Tewksbury residence.
From 1975 to 1989 both Roxbury Children’s Services and United Homes For Children continued to thrive and serve hundreds of children and families in both urban and suburban neighborhoods. The Massachusetts Department of Social Services designed Commonworks, a Residential Program for children that experienced multiple foster care placement over a relatively short period of time. Historically, minority children are over-represented in terms of length-of-stay in residential programs. UHFC was asked, as a minority vendor, to become a part of the Commonworks continuum to help DSS better understand how this could be rectified. UHFC opened a 14-bed facility in Merrimac, MA. This partnership made UHFC the first minority residential program in the state.
Rev. Richardson accepted a position as the President and CEO of Roxbury Children's Services, a long-standing community-based agency in Roxbury that was going through a re-organization. DSS was committed to providing much needed services to children in the Roxbury and Dorchester section of Boston, and made sure that the existing contracts remained with CSR. Existing CSR Programs consisted of; Family Child Care, Early Intervention for children ages 0-3 years, Foster Care, Adoption, and Parent Aide. Mrs. Richardson became the Executive Director of UHFC and remained in that capacity through June, 2005. In 1990, Roxbury Children’s Services re-organized and re-opened under its new name - Children’s Services of Roxbury, Inc. (CSR)
UHFC opens a second office in Dorchester, MA. CSR was able to maintain growth in Family Child Care, its largest program. However, the Early Intervention program, because of its structure, continued to cause a financial drain on the agency. A decision was made to seek another CBO that could integrate our unit with its operation. This was successfully accomplished.
CSR continued to not only grow in its initial programs, but expanded into an array of programs that related to children and families. These included: providing apartments for 70 single parent families; operating a congregate shelter for homeless individuals; working with youth and police to reduce violence; mediating court cases involving custody issues; establishing life-long connections for children aging out of the system at age 18; and constructing a state-of-the-art childcare center with a maximum capacity of 100.
UHFC received the programs and assets of a not-for-profit agency that ceased operating. Programs included a Homeless Shelter, and Transitional and Single Room Occupancy (SRO) for individuals in recovery.
UHFC opens "New Leaf," a 14-bed Residential Program for girls, located on its Dorchester campus.
2000 UHFC and CSR enter into a collaborative agreement to share like resources between agencies in areas where programs are similar (Foster Care, Adoption, and Family Stabilization).
UHFC is not able to negotiate its lease and closes its Residential Program in Merrimac.
UHFC continues operations in Tewksbury and Dorchester, as well as its collaboration with CSR.
The Governing Boards of UHFC and CSR were aware that the Richardsons were planning to retire. In preparation for this event, the Board President met and consulted with the Richardsons about succession. The conclusion was that a merger of the two agencies would insure continued growth, financial stability, continuity of employment for staff, and reduce the search to one individual to assume control. CSR was chosen as the successor agency. However, since both agencies were equally visible in the community and child welfare arena, UHFC remains as a dba entity.
The merger became effective July 1, 2005. The Board of Directors hired Pamela Ogletree as the President & Chief Executive Officer effective September 15, 2005, and there was a transitioning period with the Richardsons through December 31, 2005, at which time Mrs. Ogletree assumed full responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the agency.