EAST CHICAGO — Nazareth Home, a 24-hour group home for medically compromised babies and children, closed its doors Aug. 1, after more than 25 years of service to Indiana children. No children lived at the home at the time of its closure.
Founded in 1993 by The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ to confront the growing problem of abused or abandoned children with unique medical needs, Nazareth Home has served 230 children from newborn to age 6. Located in a quiet neighborhood in East Chicago, children were placed at Nazareth Home through referrals from the Department of Child Services and received the spiritual, physical, and emotional care that is essential to early childhood development in a home-setting.
"I have a deep appreciation for the ministry of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ who have, for more than 25 years, served babies and children with unique medical needs through Nazareth Home," said Most Rev. Robert J. McClory, Bishop of Gary. "I can imagine the profound sadness the religious community experienced in making the difficult decision to close the home. This is a time to thank God for all the blessings received through Nazareth Home. We pray that the needs met by Nazareth Home will continue to be met in the future in new ways."
In early 2018, Nazareth Home received its license to be a group home. That same year, the federal government passed a bill that included the Family First Act, which drastically reduced the number of foster children placed into group homes. As a result, Nazareth Home, like other group homes, has been facing low census the past several years to the point that in mid-July there were no children in the home.
“This is a sad time for all of us. We can take comfort, when we remember all the special children, over the past 25-plus years, who have better lives because they received spiritual, emotional and physical care at Nazareth Home,” stated Sister Joetta Huelsmann, Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, Provincial.
A special closing ceremony will be held for the dedicated staff and volunteers.