Metro-East News

Nonprofit hopes to create more partnerships with move to Fairview Heights

Hoyleton Ministries moves headquarters to Fairview Heights

Chris Cox, president of CEO of Hoyleton Ministries, talks about the nonprofit organization's recent move to Fairview Heights to be closer to the children and families it serves. Hoyleton offers a variety of services including residential facilitie
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Chris Cox, president of CEO of Hoyleton Ministries, talks about the nonprofit organization's recent move to Fairview Heights to be closer to the children and families it serves. Hoyleton offers a variety of services including residential facilitie

A nonprofit that’s been around for more than a 120 years — Hoyleton Ministries — hopes to create more community partnerships working out of its new centralized corporate office in Fairview Heights.

Hoyleton Ministries recently relocated its offices in an effort to be closer to the clientele it services, said Chris Cox, president and CEO.

“As we have grown over the years, our service area continues to grow,” Cox said.

Hoyleton helps about 1,500 children and families on a daily basis in more than 40 counties in Illinois. They serve children who have developmental disabilities and low IQs as well as children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Hoyleton provides homes for these kids whether it’s a residential facility or a foster family.

“Eighty-five percent of the services we provide on an annual basis is right here in St. Clair and Madison counties,” Cox said.

The Board of Directors at Hoyleton completed a strategic plan, which indicated the organization needed to relocate to a more central location.

“We chose Fairview Heights due to the close proximity to the interstate,” Cox said. “This is also very much a community.”

The corporate offices had been in Hoyleton, which is in Washington County. Cox said they simply outgrew the space there. The program offices were previously located in East St. Louis, and they were also relocated to the new corporate office in Fairview Heights.

“It’s been a long-term vision for our board to be more integrated into the community,” Cox said.

Sixty full-time employees work out of the newly renovated space, located on the second floor of a professional office building on Executive Drive. In all, Hoyleton employs 180 people.

Brightly colored walls in the new 14,000-square-foot office space are decorated with historical photos from Hoyleton’s century of service. “We tried really hard to blend the history of the organization into the new space,” Cox said.

The new space includes a multipurpose community room large enough to accommodate 60 people, as well as four visitation rooms where parents can visit with their children who are in foster care. The visitation rooms have a one-way observation window and speaker system so Hoyleton staff can monitor the interactions.

Hoyleton is leasing the space for their new offices from Robert Plummer, president of R.P. Lumber and and R.L.P. Development.

“Mr. Plummer believed in us and our mission. He invested in us, and we were able to figure out something we can afford,” Cox said.

He estimated Plummer invested $400,000 in the renovation of the space, and Hoyleton spent $300,000 on furnishings.

Plummer could not be reached for comment.

Hoyleton didn’t spend any money from programs, Cox emphasized. The money for the furnishings for the new space came from donors. “They were able to help us be able to invest in our futures,” he said.

In addition to Fairview Heights, Hoyleton has offices in Marion, Salem, Belleville, Cahokia and Wood River.

There is also room to grow at the new space in Fairview Heights. Cox said there are five open offices.

The space in Hoyleton (43 miles east-southeast of Belleville on Illinois 177) that previously housed the corporate office was re-purposed for programming.

It’s been a long-term vision for our board to be more integrated into the community.

Chris Cox, president and CEO of Hoyleton

Community outreach

Cox believes nonprofits and government agencies need to work together to improve the lives of children and families.

“We have to find meaningful ways to partner with one another,” he said. “We have to find different ways to reach families.”

Currently, Cox said Hoyleton is working with Cahokia School District 187 to apply for a grant for a pilot program for kindergarten through third-graders.

Hoyleton would provide an assessment and screening for students and their families.

“Those that screen high for need of services, we are going to be engaging them and providing services,” Cox said. “It’s an opportunity to find new ways or different ways to support communities. We need to develop more community-based programs for children and families.”

The grant application is due next month, and Hoyleton will find out in October if the organization received it. If it does, the program at Cahokia schools would start in January.

Cox would like to see nonprofits in the area get out of what he called their “silos” and work together and share resources.

He wants to see children out of institutional settings back into the community with the ultimate goal of finding forever homes.

Hoyleton recently developed a new tagline for the organization — “Building Stronger Communities One Child at a Time.”

87 percent of charitable donations to Hoyleton go directly to programs that help children

What does Hoyleton do?

Hoyleton provides services to children and families in several different areas: residential services, child welfare services, prevention services, Latino ministry and behavioral health.

Hoyleton Children’s Home in Washington County is a residential treatment program for children and adolescents, 9 to 21 years old, with development disabilities or severe emotional/behavioral problems. It can serve up to 40 children.

A group home in Salem, Ill., serves children who have IQs of 50 or below. Cox said a 12-year-old boy who has been living at the home, which can accommodate nine children, knew only five words. After a few months at the home, Cox said the boy now knows more than 30 words.

The Transitional Living Program provides a home for eight boys in Belleville who are developmentally disabled and between the ages of 17 and 20.

“The whole goal for us in the institutional setting programs is to be able to get them stabilized and finding them that community placement so they can be integrated back into the community as quick as possible,” Cox said.

He estimated the average length of stay is 14 months, but Hoyleton’s goal is to get that down to eight to nine months.

A new initiative Hoyleton will launch next month is a group home for eight adolescent mothers, between the ages of 17 and 20, who, with their children, are under the guardianship of the Department of Children and Family Services.

“The whole goal is being able to help the mother be able to strengthen her bond with the baby and develop her skills as a mother,” Cox said.

Hoyleton is leasing space from Caritas in Belleville for the new Pregnant and Parenting Teen Transitional Living Program.

The whole goal for us in the institutional setting programs is to be able to get them stabilized and finding them that community placement so they can be integrated back into the community as quick as possible.

Chris Cox, president and CEO of Hoyleton

Hoyleton’s foster care program serves 170 children, Cox said, throughout Southern Illinois. Hoyleton also provide foster care services for 20 children with special needs.

“They need more intense care,” Cox said, whether they have a learning disability or behavior issues. “There are more resources applied to that child and the foster family.”

Hoyleton provides independent living for 37 older adolescents who are still under the care of DCFS due to abuse or neglect.

“They are 18 or older and are making the transition into the adult life,” Cox said. “We actually help support them in an apartment setting in the community of their choice with the goal of completing their education and making sure they are gainfully employed and ready to take that next step.”

The nonprofit’s Latino ministry called “puentes de esperanza” or “bridges of hope” works with the growing Latino population in Southern Illinois. The focus of the program, Cox said, is to be the bridge to services. “How can we help empower the community to be able to access services and address their family’s needs,” he said.

Hoyleton has shifted its effort toward more prevention programs including human trafficking and school-based teen pregnancy education.

“We want to be able to find ways to be involved in families lives before there’s a crisis,” Cox said.

Hoyleton also works with the Southern Illinois Child Death Investigation Task Force and the Death Fatality Review Team, which examines any suspicious death of a child under the age of 18.

“The whole design is to do the review and make recommendations back to DCFS and to the state system to improve practice with the hope of saving more children down the line,” Cox said.

Hoyleton estimates it helps 1,500 individuals and families on a daily basis.

Jamie Forsythe: 618-239-2562, @BND_JForsythe

At a glance

Here’s the information you’ll need to know if you want to see Hoyleton’s new offices:

  • What: Ribbon cutting and open house
  • When: Ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and open house from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Where: 8 Executive Drive, Suite 200 in Fairview Heights
  • More info: 618-688-4727 or www.hoyleton.org
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