In November, the Industrial School for Boys, formerly known as St. Michael’s in Falls will turn 100, marking a full century of helping disadvantaged children.
Through most of those years, the building was owned by the Diocese of Scranton, but EIHAB Human Services, based out of Jamaica Village, N.Y., purchased it in 2011.
According to Jeri Jordan, office manager for EIHAB, the only difference made during the regime change was the inclusion of a female dorm on campus. The dorms for the males and females are separated by an overflow dorm, and are watched by employees to prevent any unwanted mingling.
As part of the transaction with the Diocese of Scranton, EIHAB also received three group homes. Only the Fresh Start Group Home, located on Evergreen Road in Falls Twp., is currently operational, but according to Jordan, the Tunkhannock Group Home is expected to open up within the next two months.
Recently, Jordan said, there has been a misconception spread around the community that EIHAB has been housing adults and adolescents together, which, she wanted to assure the community is simply not true.
“I’m not sure why it started,” she added, but suggested that it might be due to the fact that both group homes used to be part of the residential program that provides services for youths. Both are now solely devoted as adult Intellectual Developmental Disability group homes.
According to John Gibbons, residential director of the main campus building, “All of the vans have the same logo too,” whether they are driving children or adults.
Not only are there entirely separate facilities for adults and children, but adults aren’t even allowed in the main campus building without surveillance.
“You know that saying about it takes a village,” Jordan asked, “Well, we need that village to understand that we’re trying to help these children. We’re not going to mesh the programs.”
“You have to have clearances and safe crisis management credentials or you can’t be anywhere near the children,” Gibbons added.
According to Jordan, the Safe Crisis Management course is 24 hours long and has to be renewed yearly.
“Nobody lapses beyond that year,” she said.
“Seventy percent is just learning how to talk,” Gibbons added.
While the interview was taking place, an example of Safe Crisis Management presented itself. A client became upset, and stormed out of the main campus building.
“They’re are no locks to leave either the building or their rooms,” Jordan said.
She added that while the children have the freedom to move around, they are monitored, and while anyone can leave the building, the doors to get inside need to be unlocked from a central office.
As the client stormed away from the building, Gibbons followed, and, according to him, tried to guide the client from a few feet behind him.
“As long as he’s not a threat to himself, or to anyone else, we won’t restrain him,” Gibbons said.
The client began to walk towards route 92, so staff got one of the EIHAB vans and convinced him to get in.
“At this point, he’s calming down, but he’s afraid,” Gibbons said, “We just keep talking to them.”
“Even if they’re yelling, you have to remain calm,” he added,
Luckily, the client settled down, and was able to leave with his mother soon after.
“We have some people that are tremendous with the kids,” Gibbons said, “No matter what happens.”
The main campus building offers residential, shelter, and diagnostic services for youths placed through Children Youth Services or Junior Parole Officers.
According to Gibbons, “It might not be the greatest situation that they’re coming from.”
He added that, “We try to get them (back) home as soon as possible so they can be successful.”
The main campus also offers an alternative, licensed, education program that adolescents can graduate from as well as a full length, indoor pool, a gym, a weight-lifting room, a fishing pond and a state of the art media center where movies are shown every Friday.
“Why wouldn’t you want your child here rather than locked up?” Gibbons said.
He added that, “If there is an organization that is curious, we can set up a tour.”
The main campus is located at 1200 SR 92 South and anyone with questions can contact Gibbons at 570-240-0898.
EIHAB also runs foster care services. Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent, or interested in receiving information on foster parenting, can call Janell Locker at 570-388-6155, ext. 223.