Children’s home to move administrative offices

Published 10:45 pm Friday, October 31, 2008

The United Methodist Children’s Home is moving its headquarters to the Montgomery area after nearly a century here.

The Children’s Home recently announced it would combine its offices under one roof to coordinate the operation of 15 facilities in Alabama and northwest Florida.

The organization’s CEO, CFO, vice president of programs, business office and human resources department are currently located in the administration office in Selma.

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Its public relations and development office is in Birmingham. Jill West, director of development and public relations, said UMCH initially decided to split operations to spread services out to more areas of the state.

“Probably 10 years ago we opened that office in hopes of reaching closer to our north Alabama programs and doing centralized fundraising in a large metro area,” said West. “But the downside to that has been having this fragmented staff. I’m the director of that (Birmingham) department, but I’m based in Millbrook. That way I can be in Selma when I need to, and Birmingham when I need to.”

UMCH began in Summerfield as Alabama Methodist Orphanage in 1890 and moved to Selma in 1911 when it took on its current name.

But expansion of services and locations over the last several years forced its board of directors to make a decision about how to operate more efficiently.

“It was fine, I think, those many, many years when we simply had one location, which was Selma,” said CEO Steven R. Hubbard. “But in the last 15 to 20 years, we’ve done a tremendous expansion of services in residential care, foster care, in-home family services, shelter care and adoption home studies. Given the fact that we’ve had such an expansion, it just made more sense that we be a little more centrally located.”

UMCH has locations that range from Tuscaloosa to Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The board of directors voted to make the move in July, and it is still early in the process, West said.

The board has yet to decide on a location, but is firmly set on moving to the Montgomery/Prattville region.

It could be one and a half to two years before all the operations are completely relocated, according to Hubbard.

Selma’s campus offers two services, group homes and its Babies First program, which takes care of mothers and their children. The local facility employs about 30 people.

Hubbard said the move would not necessarily mean the loss or creation of jobs. Several people have jobs related to services offered locally.

But those with administrative duties will either have to relocate or commute.

“There are six or seven people that live in Selma. The rest are currently living either in Montgomery, Birmingham or Millbrook,” Hubbard said. “The half dozen people that currently live in Selma will obviously have the opportunity to move with us to Prattville/Montgomery. It will be totally up to them whether or not they choose to do that.”

Hubbard expressed appreciation to the region that fostered UMCH’s ministry.

“This was our home, this was our beginning,” Hubbard said. “Selma’s been a good home to the agency.”