Over the years, many children's homes have closed their doors due to insufficient funding and poor stature. But The American Legion Children's Home in Ponca City, Okla., has remained open for the past 82 years from its positive reputation as a school and a home, and because of its supportive family of Legionnaires.
The American Legion helped the home get underway in 1928 as a way to administer care and support for children of veterans who could no longer provide for their young. But over time, the home opened its doors to all displaced youth. For this reason, approximately 8,000 children ages 11-17 have received the attention and provision they deserved.
Today, 62 children reside at the facility that sits on 100 acres of land and features ample amenities such as a playground, garden, baseball field, and an art and recreational room. However, a federal Medicaid rule is trying to cut the number of residence living in the home, as well as the funding received - a cut that would leave 48 children homeless and many employees out of work.
The federal Medicaid rule, which has apparently existed since 1988, states that a childrens home acquiring funding from the federal government may not have more than 16 children in residence. While the Children's Home receives funding from the Legion's Child Welfare Foundation and Legionnaires, it also inherits financial support from the government.
"As a non-profit, we are too dependent on government funding," said Kerri Bowman, the home's development officer. "Our goal is to be independent from the government, but in order to succeed we will need help, especially from our Legion family. There is no sense in us stopping our services to these children after 82 years."
The thought of stopping services, displacing 48 children and losing staff members isn't a consideration as the Children's Home is dear to the hearts of many, including Bowman, whose grandmother and grandfather grew up and met there. Therefore, a writing campaign is underway to see that the federal government does not cut the home's number of residents or funding dollars.
Legion family members can be a great help with the campaign by writing a letter to their U.S. congressional delegation, informing them of the federal Medicaid rule and its devastating consequences. The letter should also be a reminder of how the Legion Children's Home has served children of veterans for 82 years and plans to serve for many years to come.
Additionally, click here to learn more about The American Legion Children's Home.