Miller House revitalized

Open house attendees listen as Judge John “Ben” Roe gives a presentation in the yard of the Miller House Wednesday afternoon.

ROCHELLE— Rochelle’s Focus House staff held an open house Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the reopening of their residential Miller House and the restructuring of the program.
The Focus House is an organization which works in part with the court system, the Ogle County Board and Rochelle Township High School to provide education, counseling and alternative programing for troubled juveniles and their families. The programming for the Focus House is split up into three different parts: school, counseling and residential.
High risk juveniles who have been directed by the court system may be referred to the Miller House when they are in need of residential treatment. The juveniles who are referred both live and complete their treatment in the house as it provides a strong environment to learn.
“I think that there are times where kids just can’t do what they need to do when they are in their home environment sometimes. And so, it gives them an opportunity to be in a structured supportive environment and get a lot of treatment at one time, instead of outpatient when you don’t have access to such intensive services,” explained Brenda Mason, director of Focus House.
The Miller House is an alternative to sending the children who have been in trouble with the law to state juvenile detention facilities.
The facility was closed for approximately the last 18 months and since then the building has undergone several renovations and the staff has reorganized its efforts and made improvements to the programming. The main goal of this event was to invite everyone that has played a role in the process to see where all of their time and hard work has gone.
“We went through a lot of just updating and restructuring not only the programing as well as retraining staff, updating manuals and updating the Miller House itself,” said LeAnn Brandenburg, trial court administrator. “Through this whole collaboration it is finally open in August, so I thought it would nice be to have this open house so all of the stakeholders could come and everybody could see what all of their hard work has produced.”
In the year and a half that the house was closed many of the policies and procedures were reworked on evidence based research, new staff with more training was put into place and a new behavior model will be used across all three parts of programming.
“We really have a model now that is cognitive behavioral based, so the school is doing the same thing that the counseling department is doing that is the same thing that the residential department is doing. So, the kids are kind of hearing the same message across the board,” added Mason.
Mason added that Focus House has become a big part of the community since it opened in 1975 and the officials and staff have always been appreciative of all of the support they receive from Rochelle and the county.
“I have been here for about four years, I have been the director for about a year and a half, but I am always just amazed at the amount of support from Ogle County for juvenile services and it is just awesome,” Mason exclaimed.


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