THE ENTRANCE to the Board of Child Care in Randallstown is marked by bronze figures depicting children at play -- running, skipping, turning cartwheels, performing handstands.
They're lighthearted symbols for an institution with a serious mission: caring for emotionally troubled adolescents from around Maryland.
"Our emphasis is on children first," said Executive Director Thomas L. Curcio. "Children have to have a place to live, a place to grow up, a place to learn, a place to have fun. We want kids to look around here and say, `All my needs can be met here.' "
Designed by artist Glenda Goodacre, the sculptures are among the latest additions to the Board of Child Care's main campus at 3300 Gaither Road, a 33-acre property that has been reconstructed at a cost of $20 million during the past several years.
Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, the Board of Child Care is one of the oldest and largest child-care agencies in the area. Its campus will be rededicated at 2 p.m. Saturday as part of celebrations to commemorate the organization's 125th anniversary this year.
The Board of Child Care grew out of three Methodist facilities serving children and families in Baltimore and Washington. The original orphanages were replaced by larger congregate-care facilities. The agency began operating from its current location in 1960. During the past six years, it has altered nearly every facet of its operation -- its array of services, its physical plant, its governing body and its organizational culture.
The Board of Child Care, honored by the United Methodist Association as the Organization of the Year for 1999, offers 13 types of programs and services to children, families and the church community. They range from dormitory-style and semi-independent living facilities to family counseling, continuing-education seminars, a wilderness course and an outpatient health clinic.
The campus has been redesigned to accommodate up to 124 residents and 75 to 80 day students. Residents range in age from 7 to 21 and live on campus for up to 14 months. Students are in grades five to 12. The Board of Child Care has a $17 million annual budget and a staff of 250.
Curcio said the improved facilities were designed to accommodate the changing needs of the agency, which has broadened its mission to provide more services for those in its care.
"We're celebrating not only the completion of a new campus but the beginnings of a different way to work with children," he said.
"Agencies like ours started as orphanages and were very institutional," he said. In the transformation of the agency, "we've grown to become a more complex organization that can address children's needs intellectually, spiritually, academically, clinically. It's really like a mini-college campus."
In addition to the cottage-style residences, the new buildings include a two-story classroom building, an administration building, multipurpose and gym facilities, a commercial kitchen, a conference center and a 120-seat chapel. Architects included Einhorn Yaffe Prescott Architects and Engineers, and the Kerns Group.
Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse was the general contractor.
Curcio said he can tell that the new campus is making a difference.
"The children are more content," he said. "They're happier with their surroundings. There's more for them to do."
For troubled adolescents, the environments where they live and study can be an important part of the healing process, he said.
"If they don't feel good about themselves," said Curcio, "all the treatment in the world won't matter."
Clifton Mansion tower to honor Samuel Hopkins
The tower at Clifton Mansion, former home of university founder Johns Hopkins, will be dedicated this month in honor of Samuel Hopkins, the great-great-nephew of Johns Hopkins and a longtime community leader.
Baltimore's Board of Recreation and Parks, along with Civic Works, a nonprofit organization that has its headquarters in the restored Clifton Mansion at 2701 St. Lo Drive, will hold the dedication ceremony at 5 p.m. June 18.