When the Children's Home of Jefferson County opened 160 years ago, it was exactly as its namesake suggests. However, as the decades have passed, so has the home's mission.

While children remain the focus, the CHJC has evolved to ensure it can help as many adults as possible too. Soon, it will be easier than ever for that to happen.

Construction work is underway at the Empsall Plaza, one of Watertown's most historic buildings. It's soon to be the newest addition to the Children's Home of Jefferson County. It will serve as a way to ensure most all administrative staff and health care services offered to all clients has one lone location.

"The support between the administrative staff, which has been really difficult, will be nice. Everybody will be, right now we're all kind of spread around, it'll be nice to have everybody together," CHJC Executive Director Karen Richmond said.

The building, set to open in early July, will also be home to the agency's new Care Coordination mission, which coordinates a client's needs with either CHJC offices or outside agencies elsewhere in the community. While that still will be the case, some of those off-campus needs such as physical health care, behavioral health care, even pharmaceutical needs can be met on site, which will be critical during COVID-19 when so many cannot leave their homes to make multiple stops, or have safety concerns doing so.

"It reduces some of those stressors and barriers that folks have,” CHJC Director of Systems Administration Michele Monnat said. “At times they may only have access to assisted transportation once a week or once a month. So they're often choosing between, 'should I pick up that prescription or get that blood work.’”

"I think now more than ever it’s important that we're working together and we're certainly seeing that with partner agencies," CHJC Care Coordination Program Manager Molly Ormsby added.

It will also be a big help to staff. Rather than playing message tag and risking information getting lost in message translation, they can just walk the hallway or take the stairs to deliver information firsthand.

The CHJC received funding help for the project from the Office of Mental Health and the Department of Health.