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  • Celebrating the 40Th Anniversary of Plaid House, Inc.

    by Representative Rodney P. Frelinghuysen

    Posted on 2015-02-04

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    FRELINGHUYSEN of new jersey in the house of representatives Wednesday, February 4, 2015 Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor Plaid House, Inc. located in Morristown, New Jersey as it celebrates its 40th Anniversary.

    Over the last forty years, Plaid House has stayed true to its mission of providing residential and counseling services to adolescents in northern New Jersey. Since its foundation, the members of Plaid House, Inc. have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of so many young adults, as evidenced by the impact its programs have had on the community.

    In December of 1970, Katherine Merck was asked by the Morris County Probation Office if she would be willing to take a seventeen year old girl into her home for the holidays. The local residential treatment center would be closed due to the holidays, and the judge had decreed that the girl, despite lacking a criminal history, would be placed in Clinton State Prison for Women if an alternative could not be found. Upon taking the young woman into her home, Kate learned from the young woman about the numerous girls from the community that were often left without a place to live. So, she decided to start a group home for girls in Morris County, and within a few years, the Plaid House group home opened its doors.

    The goal of the Plaid House group home is to provide a complete living experience and therapeutic environment for troubled adolescent girls. The residents of the Plaid House group home are placed there by the Department of Children and Families. The girls can range in age from fourteen to eighteen years old and are accepted from anywhere in New Jersey. Girls are enrolled in local school and encouraged to involve themselves in the community through afterschool programs, working, and volunteering. The group home staff provides a varied schedule throughout the week including recreational and educational activities. All girls regularly participate in individual and group counseling, provided both on site by the Program Manager and off site by therapists in community agencies.

    When it opened its doors in 1975, Plaid House group home began with a capacity for five girls and was staffed by two houseparents. Since then, the number of girls at the home has expanded to ten, with supervision increasing to a team of full-time staff working twenty-four hours a day to serve these girls. The group home even underwent an expansion construction project in 2003 to provide much needed additional space and improve the quality of living for its residents.

    Plaid House, Inc. also offers Thenen House, which opened in 1989, to provide a supervised transitional living program to young women who have outgrown group homes, but have been assessed as being unable to return home. The residents are young women of ages from sixteen to twenty, who are under the supervision of Child Protection and Permanency and need assistance in preparing for independence. Here the residents are required to participate in a full-time educational and employment program, helping them to develop practical skills, establish emotional independence, and learn budgeting techniques; the budgeting program demands that the women save fifty percent of their wages, which will be returned to them when they leave the program.

    Plaid House's Aftercare Program provides counseling to adolescent males and females who have been discharged by Child Protection and Permanency from residential placements or foster care. The goal of the program is to help these young adults transition successfully from out of home placement into the community, whether they are returning to their homes or moving out to live on their own. In addition, Their Aging Out Program serves male and female clients of ages fifteen to twenty who are under the supervision of Child Protection and Permanency and currently in out of home placement. The young adults participate in life skills training, presented in weekly workshops, which follow a curriculum including employment skills, money management, career planning, further education, communication, and problem solving. Each participant completes a skills assessment at the beginning and end of the program to measure the progress made from training.

    Since the opening of their group home forty years ago, Plaid House has moved hundreds of young adults through their programs. Though the organization has undergone various changes and improvements since its inception, their commitment to providing these adolescents with opportunities for success has remained constant.

    Mr. Speaker, I ask you and my colleagues to join me in congratulating Plaid House, Inc, its dedicated staff and Board of Directors as it celebrates its 40th Anniversary.


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