KidsPeace officials broke ground Tuesday on an expansion of the school's Bowdon campus that will be paid for with $2.2 million in local donations.
KidsPeace is headquartered in Pennsylvania. Its Bowdon campus has been at 100 percent capacity since it opened in 2004. The 60-bed facility offers room, board, oversight services and an onsite school for children with psychiatric, psychological, behavioral or sexual issues.
Because of the constant 100 percent capacity, the facility has been forced to decline referrals of young people in need of treatment.
“We are proud to add the beds,” said Tom Upchurch, a Bowdon resident and longtime educator who is on the KidsPeace Board of Associates. “We have been full every day since we opened. There is a waiting list and we turned away literally hundreds last year because we did not have space, but now we can take 20 more.”
Upchurch said KidsPeace is appreciative of the community because it allows the facility to continue to do good for children who would not have a chance without such a facility.
“We remain at full capacity,” said Louis Shagawat, executive director of KidsPeace. “With the current 60-bed facility, the additional 20-bed wing will allow us to continue to provide exceptional care and treatment to approximately 35 additional children every year.”
KidsPeace School of Georgia is accredited, thanks to the Carroll County School System, by the Southern Accreditation of Colleges and Schools.
“It is a pleasure to work with KidsPeace,” said Carroll County Schools Superintendent Scott Cowart. “It’s another group who is committed to helping children and anybody that we can work with in our community to better the needs of all children -- that is what we feel like we need to do.”
Will Isemann, president and CEO of KidsPeace, said the community has been important to KidsPeace for the past 13 years, enabling the work the school has done with its students.
“We saw that places in Atlanta could not take extra kids so we decided to go ahead and expand,” Isemann said. “We raised $2.2 million to make this project a reality so we will get the chance to help children.”
Carroll County Board of Commissioners Chairman Marty Smith said that at both the federal and state levels he has continued to see finances and money being taken and defunded for programs like KidsPeace.
“It is amazing, though, that when you put together people right here in Carroll County and people like-minded and some money, we can accomplish great things at the local level,” he said.