United Methodist Church Children’s Home to close

Published 11:58 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

SELMA — By the end of January, the 16 or so children living at the United Methodist Children’s Home here will live in other group homes run by the organization. The doors here will be closed.

The closure of this campus has nothing to do with the community or crisis. The mission of the Methodist Children’s home will continue, says CEO Steve Hubbard.

But there is a shift in how to help children who cannot live at home. Instead of the large group homes similar to the Children’s Home in Selma, therapist and experts in care for children needing these services say smaller homes in neighborhoods are the preferred setting.

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“The children’s home mission is alive and well,”said Hubbard. “Really it would not be efficient to serve children on the Selma campus.”

Additionally, the administrative portion of the Children’s Home will complete a move to Prattville or Montgomery. Last year, some of the staff began working at a facility in Montgomery.

With other of the Methodist homes crisscrossing the state, the board believed moving headquarters to Montgomery or Prattville, closer to Interstate 65 and Interstate 85 would be better economically for administrative workers. Eight workers remain on the Selma campus.

“We need to be under one roof to be effective,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard, who lives on campus with his wife and children, said he would likely continue to live in Selma and he would commute.

The 35-acre campus on Broad Street has been a familiar setting to Selma residents since 1911 when it moved from Summerfield to Selma and became the United Methodist Children’s Home.

Lifelong resident Nancy R. Bennett said the big white building and cottages have been part of the Selma landscape since she could remember. “I have a number of friends that were children who lived there and a number whose parents were houseparents there.”

The campus and its buildings are for sale. Two years ago, the property was appraised at about $3.5 million, Hubbard said. Several interested parties have toured the site. “Right now, we dont have anything concrete to share,” he said.

Hubbard hopes that in a couple of months he and the board will know of a buyer. The organization does not have a set price. “That’s negotiable,” Hubbard said.

The worst-case scenario would be for the administrative part of the organization to move out after the children leave without selling the campus.

“We would do what we need to do to maintain the grounds and the look of the campus,”Hubbard said, adding that the hope is to sell to a group that would use the existing buildings and not tear them down.