On the right path

PATH North Dakota made a major move recently while still managing, as part of its mission says, to provide treatment to children and youth in family settings.

PATH has moved to a new location at 1425-21st Ave. N.W. in Minot from its previous rented location at 2000 Burdick Expressway East and will have an open house at the new site on Monday.

There will be a welcome address and ribbon cutting starting at 11 a.m., a light lunch provided by the organization and tours of the new facility will be conducted from noon to 4 p.m. The public is invited to visit the new PATH North Dakota Family Service Center for tours after 2 p.m.

PATH North Dakota, or PATH ND, is a non-profit organization and provides personalized treatment foster care and family-based services for children and their families, according to its website. The organizaation pioneered the treatment foster care concept and has built a reputation for quality and leadership in the foster care field. PATH ND seeks to serve children in the least restrictive setting possible, while still bringing the needed services to the child. PATH programs are set up to provide extra support and foster parent training to allow children and youth with treatment needs to have the security and normalcy of a family home while receiving the services to help them address personal challenges and difficult family backgrounds.

Bill Metcalfe, CEO of PATH North Dakota, said they have 17 offices in North Dakota, Idaho and Minnesota, with most of their services provided in North Dakota. PATH ND works with kids struggling with emotional and behavioral issues in family homes, he explained. They have low ratios of staff to patients, Metcalfe added, getting kids back to their homes as soon as they can. The program has also proven successful in the family environment and in school.

Currently, PATH ND has 18 licensed foster homes and will be licensing more, said Janice Tschmack, regional director for PATH ND in western North Dakota. That means 18 kids have been placed in foster homes.

“We want to match children to a home that matches the best for them, not just place them in a home that has an opening,” Tschmack said, adding that some of the foster homes provide respite care.

The requirements to be a foster parent are not as strict as one might think. Tschmack said the potential foster parent must be over age 21, pass a criminal and background check, pass a home study and the parent can be married or single.

“We want people willing to offer a healthy and stable home and be willing to work with us,” Tschmack said.

The move of PATH ND to a new location is exciting, according to Dale Twedt, executive director of the organization, because this will give a permanent presence for PATH ND and that’s important. What’s more, the staff already feels at home in their new facility, he added, and everyone is pleased to have the new building. The organization had always thought about continue renting, Twedt said, but with the events in Minot over the past couple of years, they thought it was time to build.

“It was economical for us to build,” he added.

Twedt said he’s been with PATH ND for 14 or 15 years and their old location on East Burdick had been their third location. But the new location is in a nice area and close to other county offices. “It’s just ideal for us.”

The need for services prompted the move to the new facility.

“Our goal is to provide community based services for kids and families and keep kids in houses and help them transition to adulthood. It’s important to be comfortable and have a sense of a place to be. A better workplace means being better able to provide services,” Twedt said.

PATH ND’s move to a new facility was completed in November, said Metcalfe. PATH ND has been offering its services since 1994 and with all of the changes happening in northwestern North Dakota, they thought it was wiser to construct their own building, he added.

The new facility features the usual offices and conference rooms, Metcalfe said. In addition, there is also a small apartment for a new hire in case the person isn’t able to find a place to live as well as a hotel room for a staff member to stay if there aren’t any rooms available, he continued.

Additionally, the new facility has a kitchen with a stove, Tschmack pointed out. They offer a class on independent living and one of the staff members works with the child on those skills, she said.

“We also do meetings with foster parents so now we have a place to meet with them and serve food,” she said.

There have been no major roadblocks with PATH ND moving into their new facility.

“The community has been very supportive, we’ve been welcomed and the city was cooperative,” Metcalfe said. They had anticipated challenges since it would be their first permanent building in Minot, he added, but there were none.

“We were amazed at how quickly it went up,” Tschmack said. “We were included in every process and everyone felt included in the process.”

Metcalfe and Twedt have both noticed an increase in a need for services from PATH ND. Metcalfe said he noticed more challenges in the area of cost for staff members and housing for staff.

“We’ve been able to do that, but it’s been more challenging,” Metcalfe added. “We need to think ahead of the curve, but we’re all evolving.”

Twedt said he has noticed a need for different types of services and have started a recruiting effort for foster parents. They have a need for more foster homes, he added, and the number one goal is to find more foster parents because they are PATH ND’s greatest need right now.

“We lost a lot of foster parents due to the flood,” Tschmack said, adding that they have able to recoup some of the foster parents. “But we have since licensed seven new foster parents and that’s seven kids who we can help.”

PATH ND has joined with other non-profit organizations to speak to the North Dakota Legislature about responding to the challenges that the organization is facing, Metcalfe said. Twedt, who has spoken to the Legislature, said they were receptive, positive and understanding to what PATH ND’s needs are. It’s challenging in western North Dakota to recruit employees and pay equitable or competitive wages, he said, and it has been hard competing with the higher cost of housing here.

“But the people who work with us speaks to (our staff’s) dedication and commitment,” Tvedt said.

“Getting people to move here is costly and we have explore ways to get people here,” Twedt pointed out. “We would rather serve Minot kids in Minot rather than in other communities. We have a strong belief in that and want that to continue.”

“We have a strong commitment to Minot,” Metcalfe added.

“Having a presence in the community and our own building is important,” Tschmack said. “We can offer services where people can come in, we can expand our services to help more children and it’s a service to the whole community. With a permanent building, it says we’re here to stay.”