Lewiston Tribune Profile of Children's Home Chronicles Trouble, Compassion

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Lewiston-based Northwest Children's Home is a haven for scores of challenged children from throughout Idaho, but a recent incident of off-campus violence has reminded its north-central Idaho neighbors just how challenging the home's mission truly is.

This morning's Lewiston Tribune offers a rare glimpse
behind the walls of the facility, which is home to about 65 children and teens. The minors have suffered the worst kinds of neglect or abuse and are struggling with a myriad of diagnoses, including abandonment, trust and anger.

The Tribune reports that in November one of those children walked off campus, broke into a house and struck a neighbor in the back of the head with a 6-pound rock. The 14-year-old has since been charged with a felony and sent to a juvenile detention facility. 

According to the paper, Lewiston police were contacted 260 times in 2014 regarding incidents at the facility. Nearly a quarter of the time those calls were in response to a report of runaways who may be in danger of harming themselves or others.

Still, neighbors told the Tribune that they love living in the area.

"Is the neighborhood safe? Unequivocally, yes," said neighbor Ronda Laybourn, who is also a real estate agent. "It's a popular area with strong home sales. People still want to come live here."

This past year, Boise Weekly published an investigative story chronicling the heartbreaking history of Kallen Hazel, an Idaho foster child who had endured 36 separate foster care placements, including multiple stays at the Northwest Children's Home, before he ultimately set fire to the barn of a McCall area foster mother. Hazel turned 17 years old this past October behind the bars of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Correction facility in Lewiston, where he is expected to stay, at least until adulthood.