Army of Angels

by Albertina Kerr Centers Foundation
Oct 28, 2010

Army of Angels Project Report

Specialized Foster Care Services
Specialized Foster Care Services


This summer, five children moved into stable, loving homes through Albertina Kerr’s new Treatment Foster Care Program. While intensive mental health challenges previously limited them to residential care, they now have the opportunity to live, learn and play in their own communities.

 After the first month in his new home, one young boy began acting out after a second child joined the family. With patience and love, his foster parents, Rose Braxton-Lyons and Doug Lyons, worked with him to identify what was triggering his behavior and help him find solutions. 

 “He said, ‘I was jealous when the other kid came because I thought you guys were going to forget about me.’ He didn’t understand that we’d give them both a lot of attention,” Rose said. “Now we’re working on problem solving how they can get along and know that they both have us.”

 As one of the first three foster families in Albertina Kerr’s Treatment Foster Care Program, Rose and Doug have plenty of love to go around. In the 15 years that they’ve been foster parents, they’ve cared for more than 30 children, staying in touch with many of them into adulthood. Their experience and success made them ideal candidates to be Treatment Foster Care parents.

 All Albertina Kerr foster care programs specialize in caring for children with mental health challenges and developmental disabilities. But the new treatment program serves those with the greatest needs, providing children with a home- and community-based alternative to restrictive residential settings. Foster parents recruited for the program have extensive experience working with challenging children. In addition to the training and ongoing support all foster families receive, treatment foster families receive 24-hour emergency response and clinical oversight from a therapist, which equips them to provide active and structured treatment in their homes. Three families are caring for children now, and Albertina Kerr plans to recruit and train a total of 10 families.

 “We got involved because it opened doors to give kids more help.” Rose said.

“The extra training helped us understand things that we didn’t know about before. It was like – bing – the light came on.”

 Rose credits the Albertina Kerr therapist they work with as a key part of their success with the two children now in their care. “She’s not only good for the kids, but she’s good for us: training us, preparing us and guiding us. It has helped a lot. She’s there for us, no matter what. It helps us be better parents to these kids.”

 Many of the children in Treatment Foster Care have never known permanence and stability. Providing it is the first step in helping them overcome challenges and succeed.

 “We never give up on any of our kids, and that’s what we’re working to make clear now,” Rose said. “These two kids have been in 15 or 16 homes, and one had a box that he never wanted to unpack because he was used to just blowing out and taking the box to the next place. So I told him, ‘It’s not happening here. Unpack. You’re here. We’re just going to work through it.”

 Since then, the child has settled into his own room and compiled a Christmas wish list with his foster brother. To Rose, that list is a big breakthrough. “It was them saying, ‘We plan to be here for Christmas. We want to be here.” 


Albertina Kerr helps children begin to recover from past experiences of abuse and neglect, address mental and emotional health challenges and receive life skills training and support to overcome obstacles related to both mental health challenges and developmental disabilities. Kerr also provides a wide range of care for adults with developmental disabilities aimed at allowing individuals to live the fullest and least restrictive life possible.


Donations from our community directly contribute to these outcomes and help Albertina Kerr achieve its mission of supporting people with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges to lead self-determined lives and realize their full potential.In the last year, Kerr’s program’s reported the following results:


Developmental Disabilities Services


Group Homes for Youth: Kerr provided 24-hour care and treatment for 103 youth, ages 9 to 18, with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges in 15 group homes. Eighty-five percent of the youth met their personal goals or are making significant, positive progress.  


Group Homes for Adults: Kerr provided a neighborhood home in a residential community for 120 men and women with developmental disabilities in 28 group homes and served 109 adults with developmental disabilities in Community Inclusion programs where participants entered the work force, joined in community activities and pursued hobbies. 92% of all adults with disabilities met their personal goals or are well on their way.  


Skills Training and Supported Living

Kerr provided 6 men and women with developmental disabilities who live in their own home and require assistance in improving their skills in personal care, cooking, shopping and other daily activities.


Youth &Family Services 


Intensive Community-Based Treatment Services

Kerr served 103 low-income children, ages 4 to 17, with emotional and behavioral health challenges who were at risk of losing their home or school placement. Therapy, skills training, and intensive behavioral support allowed 83% of children to remain safely in their home setting.


Crisis Psychiatric Care

Kerr provided who short-term crisis psychiatric care for 314 children who posed an immediate danger to themselves or others. 98% of children were stabilized and able to successfully transition to a less intensive level of care, including returning to their family.


Community-Based Outpatient Services

Kerr provided services to 174 children who required mental health treatment, skills training, and family support to be maintained in the community and out of institutions.


Kerr Early Intervention Program – KEIP

Kerr provided served 58 children ages 3-5 with emotional issues and learning delays, with 93% prepared to enter kindergarten and ready to learn. In partnership with the Multnomah Early Childhood Program, the children and their families received preschool education, therapy and counseling.


Special Needs & Therapeutic Foster Care

Kerr provided care for 57 children in foster care who have both mental health challenges and developmental disabilities and require skills training and extensive foster parent support.


While Kerr positively impacted the lives of more than 1,200 children, adults and families in the last year, the need for services remains great and more work needs to be done.

Community support will help Kerr’s programs continue to grow and be successful.


For youth faced with a mental health challenge, as well as a developmental disability, this means providing a safe, supportive group home where each child can work to overcome significant challenges and build the social, emotional and daily life skills needed for future independence. For a child pulled from an unsafe family and placed into foster care, this means being a lifeline to stability and a brighter future. For a child in the midst of a frightening, even life-threatening, mental health crisis, this means being a safety net offering immediate security and stabilization.


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Organization Information

Albertina Kerr Centers Foundation

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Development Staff
Portland, Oregon United States

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