LEWISTON — Community Concepts is taking over Advocates for Children.

Leaders for both nonprofits say Advocates for Children’s programs and location will stay the same. Employees will remain and the agency’s name will stay the same.

But the takeover means Advocates for Children can spend less money on overhead, including an executive director, and it will allow Community Concepts to expand its child abuse prevention efforts and family programs.

“I’m just real excited that maybe we’ll have an even stronger voice in Augusta and with the funder to help try to influence, to make improvements, to access other resources,” said Shawn Yardley, CEO of Community Concepts. “I’m hoping philanthropists will see that we’re trying to do things in a way that we’re exhibiting better stewardship of private and public dollars. My dream would be they’d recognize that and support us even more.” 

Both nonprofits have been in the area for decades. Community Concepts runs a variety of social services programs in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties and is more than 50 years old. Advocates for Children runs parenting classes, in-home visits for new parents, child abuse prevention and other programs in Androscoggin County and is 40 years old.

Advocates for Children’s board of directors began considering a merger several months ago. Its executive director had left to take a new job with the state and board members wanted to plan for the nonprofit’s future. That future, they decided, might be best as part of another agency.

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Board members talked with several organizations but ultimately settled on Lewiston-based Community Concepts.

“We really felt that aligning ourselves with Community Concepts would … continue to build up the community and empower folks more,” said Jaci Peterson, co-chairwoman of the board for Advocates for Children. 

Community Concepts could also take on all of Advocates for Children’s employees, an important requirement for board members.

“That was something other places could not promise us,” Peterson said.

At Community Concepts, Yardley was happy to be considered for taking over Advocates for Children. Passionate about children’s issues, he’s spent a chunk of his career on the kinds of programs Advocates for Children specializes in. Community Concepts also runs similar services to Advocates for Children, but in Oxford County only.

“So when they approached us, I was really enthusiastic because I think there’s something to be gained by joining together,” Yardley said.

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About 20 employees have moved over to Community Concepts, Peterson said. There is expected to be no disruption to the families served by Advocates for Children.

The board is now in the process of officially dissolving, but it will remain as an advisory board for at least a year “just to make sure everything is going how we want it to go,” Peterson said.

“I feel very strongly this is a really great move,” she said.

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