THE NORTH COAST CHILDREN'S HOME
In 1919 when the Rev. A. R. Ebbs was the vicar of St. Andrew's, two young children from a broken home were given into his care. Mrs George Harston opened her home and gave them temporary shelter until Mr George Barnard offered the children the use of a house which he owned in Ewing Street, free of rent. Mr Ebbs called in the aid of the Parochial Council, hoping to establish an orphanage in the town.
11.8.1919. Annual General Meeting. The Vicar (Rev. A. R. Ebbs) spoke of a proposed orphanage for neglected and orphaned children. Inspector Fenton of the S.C.R. Department had been in town and was in full sympathy of decentralisation and a Home established in Lismore, not necessarily Church of England. The Vicar moved: "This meeting agrees that the time has come for the establishment of a District Home in Lismore by the Church of England for orphaned and neglected children, such Home to be under State supervision and if possible State Aid".
When it became known that an orphanage had been set up in Lismore, applications began to pour in. Soon the Ewing Street house was far too small, and Mrs Edwards offered the use of a larger house, and the committee were fortunate in obtaining the voluntary services of Miss Lillian Caswell, a church missionary from Sydney who was awaiting appointment to a Torres Island mission.
It was not long before these premises were too small, and again the Home was transferred to a larger house. These makeshift arrangements were far from satisfactory, and the committee realised that large, permanent quarters must be found, but the costs involved in building such quarters placed it far beyond their reach.
It was at this stage that Fortune smiled on their efforts. The land between St Andrew's church and the rectory was owned by the Police Department and contained the Police Station and the lock-up keeper's residence. Early in 1936 it was learnt that the Police Department intended building more modern and commodious premises in Molesworth Street, Lismore's main thoroughfare, and then selling their redundant buildings. The Children's home committee made urgent representations to the Minister of Lands to have the land and buildings donated to the church for a Children's Home. The petition was granted, and at long last their dream came true — they had large permanent premises for the Home.
November 1936 - Opening of the North Coast Children's Home.
The fortunes of the Home have fluctuated. There have been good times and bad, the two main factors being finance and staffing. Money is always a problem with an institution such as this, but it is even more important to have a competent and sympathetic staff. The choice of a matron is difficult, and the Home has had its share of good matrons and unsatisfactory ones. In 1960 the Management Committee were at their wits' end. Conditions at the Home were far from satisfactory, they had had eight matrons in the previous eighteen months then they appointed Miss Jean O'Neill as their new matron and she remaineed in charge of the home until ill health forced her retirement in 1980.
May 1989 - Incorporation.
North Coast Childrens's Home incorporated as an association pursuant to the Associations Incorporation Act 1984 (NSW)
The Children's Home adopted the trading name of CASPA (Child and Adolescent Specialist Programs and Accommodation) early in the 21st Century.
Young people living with us found the name North Coast Children's Home really difficult and stigmatising and asked if it could be changed. The place was undergoing change, in regard to it’s purpose at the time, so a name change was on the cards.
The young people were asked if they knew about any famous kids in care. Casper the Friendly Ghost came up as a suggestion. He was an interesting choice on a couple of levels but one that struck a chord with people is that Casper was ghost and invisible to most humans in some ways like kids in care. An acronym that stated exactly what the service did and would work with CASPER was devised. One of the young people said that we would have to have the word adolescent because that is what he is. So the name CASPA was created ... Children & Adolescent Specialist Programs & Accommodation.
In recent years, CASPA has grown from strength to strength and is now running programs that include Statutory Residential Out-of-Home care, Foster Care, Contact Supervision, Mental Health Recovery, Carer Respite and Disability Care.