"In its place is the Mother Hale Learning Center, which provides educational day care for 36 kids, and a transitional housing program that has helped 161 homeless families and 297 children get back on their feet in the past four years, Hale House officials said.
"The drug and AIDS crisis of past decades diminished over time as did the need for emergency respite care," Hale House Executive Director Randy McLaughlin said in a written statement.
"That welcome circumstance . . . permitted the organization to extend its reach to serve a much larger population of children."
Hale House has been financially hobbled since it imploded in 2001, after a Daily News series exposed financial wrongdoing and neglected children under Hale's daughter, Lorraine, and her husband, Jesse DeVore.
They were indicted on 72 counts of stealing donors' millions and booted from the nonprofit by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
The cash crunch forced the new directors of Hale House to burn through more than $12 million in savings Lorraine Hale left behind. They also took out a $1.6 million loan in 2007 to run their programs, according to their most recent tax filing.
Housing babies and toddlers in an orphanage-like setting with round-the-clock child care workers was expensive, as well as outmoded.
In 2006, the new team moved the babies out of the historic brownstone into two apartment buildings the charity owns across from Morningside Park. Since then, they quietly began to phase out the residential program.
Sources told The News the last of the 10 children housed there were either adopted, placed in foster care or returned to relatives in July.
"It's a shame they are only focusing on day care and transitional housing," one veteran Hale House employee said. "That residence was Mother Hale's legacy, her dream. That should have been saved."
Another child care worker who didn't want to be named said, "We were really attached to those children. It's sad. I'm just hoping they didn't go to a bad place."
McLaughlin said Hale House's mission "to provide child-centered, family-focused programs to those in need has not changed and never will. Should any parents with challenges come to us, we will assist them with emergency child placement."
Friday, October 10, 2008