Muskegon’s “Child Haven” Shelter Update

January 23, 2015 Abuse and Neglect Attorney

Will Child Haven be Re-opened?

After a two-year closure, a potential new spot for Child Haven has been found. This shelter for neglected and abused children has been closed since January 2013, after a mechanical issue resulted in children being evacuated from the building.

The building being considered is Brinks Hall, a former residence for patients of Community Mental Health. However, at least one other agency is considering using the space as well. If Child Haven gets the approval it needs, the building would need to be refitted to be a suitable setting for children. In addition, Child Haven itself would need to be re-formed and hire new employees.

Back in November, neither Muskegon County or DHS had a set date for a move in or deadline for Child Haven to open.

“I think we’ll have something in place later this spring,” said new county administrator Mark Eisenbarth.

Doris Rucks, a chairwoman of the local DHS that oversees Child Haven, said that the department is working on the project as fast as it can. However, she did not have any information about what progress had been made about planning.

Not everybody is in agreement that Child Haven should open again. Right now DHS has opted to send children directly to foster housing or emergency foster homes, and that seems to be working out pretty well.

Yet, Arn Boezaart, a previous supervisor at Child Haven pointed out that such a place is needed because it can be difficult to find emergency foster parents; and these removed children need a place to go right away. Also, people may be interested in being foster parents but recruiting them in emergency situations is a harder sell.

Boezaart said that emergency foster care parents take kids at all hours of the day or night, including ones that have not been medically screened. These children will be scared, hungry, or otherwise emotionally upset.

“I would argue to this day that having a receiving facility for abused, neglected children is an important community asset to have,” Boezaart said.