At her death in 1854, Caroline Plummer generously bequeathed more than $23,000 for the founding of a “farm school of reform for boys.” Ms. Plummer, who had cared for her siblings after the death of her parents, knew the many challenges facing children in her beloved and growing city of Salem, Massachusetts. By 1855, ten Trustees had been appointed to establish a “school for the instruction, employment and reformation of juvenile offenders.”

Although Plummer was established as a reform school that served as an alternative to jail, it also functioned as a boys’ orphanage. Residents from ages five to 18, attended school, church and worked at Plummer. In addition to operating as a farm, Plummer ran a printing press and had a marching band.

As theories of psychology, child development and the social service delivery system evolved, Plummer changed. In the 1950’s, records suggest the organization ceased to operate as a reform school and started operating as a group home for teenaged boys. Referrals to the home came from the Department of Social Services (now called the Department of Children and Families) rather than the court or private families.

In 2006, Plummer started a period of growth spurred by emerging knowledge and data on best practices in caring for youth in child welfare. Plummer staff became innovators when, in 2010, they developed an Intervention Model emphasizing that young people need families, skills and community to become healthy adults. By 2012, Plummer had begun serving boys and girls in residential and community-based settings.

The name was changed to Plummer Youth Promise in 2017 to reflect both the commitment of the program to connect troubled young people with permanent families and the promise of a successful outcome. Plummer operates six programs and serves more than 200 young men and women each year.

Below is a timeline with information we know and some (in italics) that our research suggests to be true.

 

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