On paper, the JDM Residential Treatment Center seemed like a
wonderful place to send abused children from troubled homes.
It offered 120 secluded acres in St. Charles County on which
they could fish, hike and learn about nature. Two doctors were
among its founders, and a professional counselor was to be in
charge. The treatment program called for extensive use of pet
therapy, group counseling and structured recreational activities. A
church operated the center.
Always in need of places to send the growing number of abused
children in its custody, the Missouri Division of Family Services
began placing children at JDM in January, at a cost to taxpayers of
$1,420 a month per child.
Over the last few months, though, state investigators have
learned that the reality at JDM was much different from the
promises in its paperwork.
Since February, state child-abuse investigators have
substantiated three incidents of child abuse at the home, two of
them serious. A new investigation got under way Thursday.
The home has had six executive directors this year, and was
without one for five weeks this summer.
The home flunked 175 out of 234 checkpoints in an inspection in
The home's pantry was sometimes bare, and children were forced
to fend for themselves. Last winter, the thermostat was kept at 55
On Aug. 9, the Division of Family Services stopped placing
children at the home after a special investigator found
"substantial problems" in an unannounced visit. But the agency
left two children there, one of them diabetic, until Friday.
Shortly after the boys were removed, the home surrendered its
How did a children's home with such a blemished record continue
to operate - at state expense - for so long?
"The basic reason is fairness," said Carmen Schulze, director
of the Division of Family Services. "We wanted to give them a
chance to do remediation, to bring their program up to snuff and
A Former Nursing Home
The JDM Residential Treatment Center occupies an old farmhouse
on Schnarre Road, near Foristell, which is about 60 miles west of
St. Louis. The center's owner is Cedar Valley Church, a church
incorporated Oct. 14, 1992, the day after the treatment center was
Dr. Kelly Mills of Wentzville was the founding board president
of the church; his sister, Dr. Brenda Mills Kluttz, also of
Wentzville, was the founding board president of the home. The two
practice medicine at a clinic in Dellwood.
According to St. Charles County records, Mills bought the farm
in 1983. In 1985, he transferred ownership to Cedar Valley Farm #2,
a nonprofit corporation he had set up to operate an 11-bed nursing
home, called the Stress Farm. Mills, an internist, was the nursing
The nursing home stopped operating in 1990 after a history of
state rules violations, including numerous sanitation problems, the
housing of patients in a windowless basement and haphazard serving
On a visit in January 1989, state inspectors found no staff on
the premises, a patient in charge and patients dispensing medicine
to one other. Patients and family members told inspectors that no
staff person had been on duty for more than a week.
$72,000 A Year In Rent
In August 1992, Mills and Kluttz told the Division of Family
Services that they wanted to start up a home for abused children on
the same site. It was to be named JDM after their mother: Jessie D.
Last December, Kelly Mills transferred the farmhouse and one
acre of the 120-acre property to the church. The garage on the
property was converted into a chapel. And on Dec. 31, the Division
of Family Services issued a license to Cedar Valley Church to
operate a 14-bed residential treatment center for some of the
state's most troubled youths - children removed from their homes
because of abuse or neglect. …