New Catholic Charities facility for youth ready to open

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud will open a new secure intensive treatment facility for youth with mental health diagnoses on July 21.

St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler was to preside at a blessing of the facility July 16.


The new intensive treatment facility for youth with mental health diagnoses is set to open July 21 at Catholic Charities Children’s Home in St. Cloud. The facade of the building is pictured above. Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully / The Visitor

The building, which will be part of Catholic Charities’ Children’s Home in St. Cloud, will serve 12-to-18-year-old boys and girls who present a risk of harm to themselves or others. It will replace the Children’s Home’s old Cottage 2, which was a secure unit that provided programing for nine female youth.

During their stay at the new facility, the youth will receive individual and family therapy, participate in therapeutic and skills groups, and attend school in classrooms in the building. The average stay for program clients is 220 days.

Making improvements

The new facility will be one of only three secure facilities in Minnesota for youth with mental illness. The other two are in Fergus Falls and Minneapolis. In a secure facility, doors are kept locked and youth are constantly supervised.

The 18,520-square-foot new building will feature improvements from the old Cottage 2 including more space, more natural light and a layout designed for easier supervision.

“If we were going to continue to provide intensive care treatment, we needed a new building,” said Tim Lieser, director of residential and day services for Catholic Charities.

The old Cottage 2 had two stories, many nooks and crannies that made supervision difficult, limited space for exercise and little natural light. The youth attended physical education classes in a living room and their courtyard had artificial turf.

“We’re really excited for the staff and kids,” said Steve Bresnahan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud. “It will allow us to help more kids and do more good work.”

Sixteen youth will be able to stay at one time at the facility, which will have bedrooms for males and females in separate wings. The bedrooms will have rounded corners, and closets will be in the hallways for better supervision.

In the center of the building, which is built in a cross shape, will be a control pod. From there, staff can see down the length of the hallways. The building also will include a living room, dining rooms, kitchen, library, craft room, conference room, lobby, fitness center and gym, classrooms, computer lab, offices and a large secure outdoor area.

More options

“The open space and the light is incredible,” said Mike Gallagher, a Cottage 2 supervisor. “We find things that work for them so they can be confident and competent in themselves. There will be more options to help kids build skills and express themselves. We will be able to camp in our courtyard and have gym classes in the gym.”

The estimated cost of the building is a little over $4 million. It is being funded through an $8 million campaign, Saving Children, Saving Families. The other funds raised through the campaign will be invested in an endowment to provide funding for Catholic Charities’ programs.

The old Cottage 2 will be renovated to house the Young Learners Program that was located at the Roosevelt Early Childhood Center building in St. Cloud that burned in June. The program provided mental health and educational programing for 3-to-6 year-old children. The program will move to the old Cottage 2 Aug. 18.

To contribute to the Saving Children, Saving Families campaign, contact Penny Casavant at 320-650-1642 or