by Tim Howard
ONE of the Clarence Valley's oldest institutions is under new management after it missed out on the latest round of State Government funding.
Since October, the home has established a relationship with MacKillop Family Services,
Saint Joseph's Cowper, set up in 1913 to care for vulnerable children, has operated for more than a century on the voluntary services of the Sisters of Mercy, along with gifts and donations from generous people of Northern NSW and more recently grants from the State Government.
But when it missed out in the latest grants round the future of the facility in North Grafton became uncertain and its management began looking around for a new partner.
This government money enabled it to develop and to respond to important changes in the provision of child welfare regarding residential and 'out of home care'.
Because the special, professional work of Saint Joseph's is so vital for families in the region, its board was very keen that it continue, so it began negotiating with another, bigger, viable agency with the view to amalgamation and by it had set up a deal with MFS.
MFS was formed in 1997 from several child welfare works that had been conducted since the late nineteenth century by the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Christian Brothers.
Today, with its administrative centre in Melbourne, it is one of the leading providers of a range of services to 'at risk' children and families in Victoria, NSW and Western Australia.
The Board and staff of Saint Joseph's, along with the Sisters of Mercy, are confident that Saint Joseph's will continue to flourish as part of MFS.
In particular, they are delighted that MFS shares the deep values of the 'Mercy tradition' and its commitment to the well-being of all children, especially the most vulnerable.