Newcastle Church Aims To Help Group Home’s Troubled Teens
NEWCASTLE, Oklahoma - The debate continues over a Department of Human Services group home for boys in Newcastle. People who live near the Bison Creek facility say they are tired of living in fear for their safety, but other community members are now reaching out to help the teens.
The community remains divided on what to do about the home since last month’s town hall meeting on the issue, with some wanting to give the boys a second chance, and others saying enough is enough.
During the discussion on crimes and other concerns at the Bison Creek group home, some solutions were identified, but have yet to be put in place. 911 has been called on the boys four times in the past month.
“The people out there don’t want it there,” said Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville), who has been speaking with neighbors. “They should not have to be afraid for their life to be in their own yard and be prisoners in their own house.”
DHS plans to install more secure fencing, and a representative told News 9 they are intentionally trying to keep as few kids at the home as possible to reduce conflict. The agency has already relocated one boy who was involved in multiple incidents, but say other options are extremely limited.
These teens have all experienced the highest level of trauma and need the most care. There are only 44 beds in the state that can provide that.
That is why members of nearby Horizon Pointe Baptist Church want the boys to be part of the community they are already in.
Pastor Stephen Ussery said, “We call it Friends Night because we want them to understand, we are their friends.”
Last week, they hosted the first meeting of board games and laughs.
“We enjoyed the pizza, enjoyed the games, enjoyed kidding around with each other,” said Ussery. “We didn’t get preachy to them. We just want to get to know the kids there first.”
Ussery said he noticed no behavioral problems and thinks the boys just need to feel loved.
Neighbors remain wary, fearing real change will only happen after tragedy.
Cleveland said, “Something bad happens somewhere, they start looking back at all the signs that are taking place and they were ignored, and that’s what’s happening here.”
DHS has no plans to close the facility anytime soon, however.
Friends Night at the church will be held every second Thursday of the month, and it is open to anyone who would like to participate. Horizon Pointe Baptist Church is located at 2945 SE 44th Street in Newcastle.