A family-style community about a dozen years in the making is now open for at-risk children and teens.
New Song Mission is a 100-acre campus off Keith Donaldson Road in southeastern Brown County. Bob and Lisa Schloss have been developing it since the early 2000s solely through the support of individuals, churches, businesses and foundations.
What they need now are the kids.
Campus leaders have been reaching out to social workers, teachers, homeless shelters, food pantries and community groups around the state to let them know that New Song is now ready.
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Bob Schloss gave a brief pitch to the Helmsburg Leadership team earlier this month about New Song’s mission: to give stability, hope, opportunity and a tailored education to kids who are struggling with mild behavioral issues or other life difficulties.
These could be children whose parents who are struggling with addiction, homelessness or incarceration, or who just need a temporary place where they can be cared for.
“It would really be a joy to be able to help kids from Brown County,” he said.
At New Song, children will be cared for by a set of married, Christian houseparents. Two sets of houseparents live in separate homes on the property. One set will take care of the boys and the other will take care of the girls.
New Song plans to receive children between the ages of 6 and 16 not through the court system but through a private referral and application system.
Parents or custodial grandparents who choose to place their child at New Song sign an enrollment agreement, committing to having the child live on campus for at least one year, Bob Schloss said.
“We believe that it takes a while to build relationships with kids in order to make a long-lasting impact,” he explained. “Parents can take their kids out early, though, and we let them know that in advance. There is no legally binding contract.”
Parents sign a power of attorney document so that the New Song staff can take their child in for medical care and other needs, Schloss said, but the parents or custodial grandparents maintain their full parental rights.
“We encourage regular visitation on campus and at their homes while their kids are in our care,” he said, likening the arrangement to enrolling a child at boarding school.
Students are to be educated on campus.
Many places for them to play have been built, including a lake for fishing and canoeing, basketball court, kickball field and playground.
There is no charge to parents or grandparents who place their children at New Song. The organization has been supported by 1,100 “financial partners” with no government funds involved, Schloss reported.
In addition to the two houseparent couples, the staff includes a campus director, Kyle Augsberger of Brown County; associate director Lisa Schloss, a licensed clinical social worker; and executive director Bob Schloss, an attorney and former probation officer.
“We now have the community in place that we have always envisioned for boys and girls who need help and encouragement,” Lisa Schloss said.
To be considered for enrollment at New Song, a child must meet some of these criteria:
- Is age 6 to 16 (some exceptions can be made)
- Is able to learn in a regular classroom setting and live in a family-like environment
- Lacks the steady presence of a father in the home
- Lacks opportunities for successful growth and development
- Has mild emotional or educational challenges
- Has unstable housing or lives in an impoverished neighborhood
- Is facing other difficult life circumstances
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