Metro-East News

O'Fallon pregnancy shelter will become part of Belleville-based social services agency

A local faith-based maternity shelter will merge with a regional social services agency, the two organizations announced in a news release Friday.

Fontebella Maternity Home in O'Fallon will merge with Belleville-based Caritas Family Solutions, effective July 1. The merger will allow mothers experiencing an unplanned pregnancy to access more services as well as add further pregnancy care to Cartias' offerings, said Caritas CEO Gary Huelsmann.

“The maternity home will add another dimension to our pregnancy care program which for many years has provided a supportive option for mothers experiencing an unplanned pregnancy," Huelsmann said in a new release.

Fontebella clients will not see any change to services before the July merger takes effect, said Caritas spokeswoman Laurie Lindauer, though program managers will work on evaluating how the program can "reach out to even more women."

Caritas has provided pregnancy care and adoption services throughout Southern Illinois since 1947. Fontebella has offered housing, education, case management and counseling to homeless expectant mothers since its founding in 2009.

Fontebella co-founder Susan Hoff said the shelter's mission aligns with Caritas' interests.

"The time has come to plan for the future of Fontebella and to ensure that our mothers and their babies receive the best possible care," Hoff said in the news release.

Hoff co-founded the shelter with the help of her husband, Bob.

The Caritas Board of Directors approved the merger at its April 23 meeting. The organizations must file paperwork with the Illinois Secretary of State to have the merger approved.

Caritas is a charitable organization offering adoption, foster care, counseling, residential treatment for abused and neglected children, therapy for at-risk youth, independent living for adults with developmental disabilities, and assisted living and employment assistance for low-income seniors. The organization has locations in Carterville, Mt. Vernon, East Alton, Olney and Effingham.