The Story of Sweetser
With a history dating to 1828, Sweetser is the oldest child welfare/behavioral health organization in Maine. Sweetser evolved from the joining of four Maine orphanages: The Children’s Home of Portland (formerly the Female Orphan Asylum), the Belfast-based Children’s Aid Society of Maine, Maine Home for Boys (formerly the Little Samaritan Society), and the original Sweetser Home for Boys in Saco. As the use of orphanages declined, community-based care of special needs children grew, and with it, the need to address the psychological needs of children.
By the early 1960s Sweetser Children’s Home, as it was known, focused on providing residential services to children with severe emotional or behavioral problems, or learning disabilities.
In time, Sweetser’s commitment to behavioral health led to a system of care that included family-focused, person-centered, community-integrated services. In 1980, Sweetser expanded services from residential treatment to community-based services for children and families.
In the century and a half following its founding, Sweetser extended its reach from Portland to Saco and as far north as Belfast.
At the close of the twentieth century, Sweetser merged with two respected mental health agencies: The Family Institute of Maine and Shoreline Community Mental Health Services.e.
In 2006, Sweetser acquired PROTEA Behavioral Health Services, which operates as Sweetser today.
Today, Sweetser is Maine’s most comprehensive behavioral health care organization dedicated to serving children, adults and families.We offer services that address emotional disturbances, mental illnesses, behavioral disorders and learning disabilities through an array of educational programs, preventative services, community-support services and residential homes.
Sweetser is a private, nonprofit, non-sectarian organization. Our budget is funded through contracts with government agencies, fees for services paid by school districts, income from investments and through the generosity of committed friends and supporters.
Sweetser has maintained national accreditation with the Council on Accreditation since the founding of the organization in the 1970s, which is essential to guaranteeing our clients the best treatment and support possible. Only eight Maine human service organizations have met the group’s standards for best practice and effective administration.
Sweetser was recognized in 2002 for its pursuit of excellence with the Margaret Chase Smith Quality Award, joining a select group of Maine organizations. This honor is a powerful endorsement of our efforts to integrate quality improvement throughout an expansive network of care. By meeting objective and third party benchmarks for achievement, Sweetser has demonstrated a culture and leadership process that furthers its journey toward quality.