EDMONTON — Bosco Homes has reached an agreement with the Alberta government to continue providing services and programs to troubled youth at most of their group homes in the province.
In a news release issued Sunday afternoon, Bosco president John Watson said facilities in Edmonton, Stony Plain, Parkland County, Innisfail and Ponoka will continue to operate.
“We’re quite happy,” he said. “We’re continuing business, which is good news for us.”
However, a controversial Edmonton-area facility will be shut down once the children who are currently in care finish their treatment, by December or January.
Back in June, two youths who ran away from that facility were charged after the bodies of Susan Trudel, 50, and Barry Boenke, 68, were found on a rural property.
One of the teens is charged with murder and the other is charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Residents who live near the group home said at the time they were fearful and wanted stricter security measures to be taken at the facility.
Watson said that group home and another in Wetaskiwin “will be assessed for other uses which would be compatible with the respective communities.” There were no details about what type of uses are being considered.
The announcement comes just days after employees at Bosco Homes were told the organization was closing all of its facilities because the province had stopped sending them children.
Staff held a rally in front of the legislature, protesting the closures with concerns for the children and youth who require their services.
Watson said Bosco officials approached the Department of Children and Youth Services with proposals regarding the services they provide and were able to reach an agreement following “intensive discussions.”
“No one wanted to close Bosco,” said Watson. “It’s a very important facility so we wanted to find any way that we could keep operational.”
Trevor Coulombe of Alberta Children and Youth Services said it’s “really great news” that an arrangement could be reached.
“They had made some decisions on how they wanted to operate, talked about it with us, met with their board, and decided to continue operating,” Coulombe said.
“We’re pleased to continue working with them and I think it’s really good news for the kids in the facilities and in the programs, and for the staff who have obviously had a difficult week.”
About 100 jobs will be lost with the closure of the two facilities, Watson said, adding staff members were being notified Sunday of the changes.
Jim Stephens, leader of the group of concerned citizens that live near the Edmonton-area facility scheduled to be closed, said Sunday’s announcement left him confused.
“I am wondering, where we are at with this, I just don’t understand what it all means,” said Stephens.
At a community meeting at the end of June, Bosco and the province made a number of commitments to the residents which included reducing the number of runways by 80 per cent, installing magnetic locks on building door and putting up a fence around the perimeter of the property.
The facility also kicked out chronic runaways and stopped accepting new youth following the meeting.
Bosco Homes began clearing a path to install a 10 foot chain-link mesh fence around the property and crews already installed magnetic locks on some of the doors at the end of August.