Magdala's History

A Social Service agency, Magdala Foundation has a long and rich history of service to the St. Louis community.  Incorporated in 1965, the agency initially established the first “halfway house” in the United States for women released from local, state or federal penal institutions in April 1968.   Housing and twenty-four-hour supervision was provided as well as intense counseling, vocational testing, assistance in job placement in addition to screening for substance abuse. The average length of stay was six months.   The program had phenomenal success with less than 15% of participants ever returning to the Criminal Justice system. 


In 1971, due to Magdala’s success and the demonstrated need for similar services for men, the agency was funded for continued operation of its program for women as well as additional funding for the establishment of three halfway houses for men providing similar services along with an aftercare program allowing for a six month follow up of all graduates from the halfway house programs. 


The aftercare program allowed for early detection of potential failure thereby precipitating early intervention up to and including readmittance to the halfway house program.  While the initial funding for the Halfway Houses came from grants funded by the Federal government eventually Contracts for Service were developed with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the Missouri Department of Corrections and the City of St. Louis.  Magdala operated its halfway house and out client/aftercare programs from 1968 until 1998 when the State of Missouri made a policy decision to establish a community release center in St. Louis and no longer contract with private not-for-profit agencies. 


Magdala developed and operated several other social service programs needed in the community.


1.       Parent Training program funded by the Missouri Department of Social Services. The purpose of the program was to develop parenting skills for persons experiencing behavior difficulties with their children giving them the tools they needed to help resolve those behavioral issues.

2.       Outpatient Substance Abuse Counseling program for both Adults and Juveniles experiencing drugs/alcohol abuse problems.  The program was funded by the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, City of St. Louis Mental Health Board of Trustees and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

3.       Family Counseling funded by the Missouri Division of Family Services.  This program provided for in-home counseling for families involved in child abuse-neglect issues.

4.       Crisis Intervention Program funded by United way in cooperation with the St. Louis Police Department.  Eighty Five percent of all calls to police departments are non-criminally related.  Most are calls for help of a Social Service nature.  This include domestic and neighborhood disputes, need for food, clothing, shelter including evictions and housing displacement due manmade or natural disaster, family or individual crises produced by alcohol or drug abuse, victims of crime needing immediate assistance because of the crime committed against them.  The Crisis Intervention Program provided trained Social Workers who provided professional intervention at the scene of the crisis giving immediate counseling and referral to the appropriate social service agency suited to address the problem.  The Social Workers immediately relieved the police on the scene who were then free to return to their normal policing activity.  Our Social Workers followed up with the clients and the Social Service agencies to whom they were referred to insure services were being rendered.

5.       AIDS Counseling and Testing Program was conducted by Magdala for those persons concerned about having or contracting the disease.  Pre-test counseling sessions were conducted for those interested in being tested for the HIV virus.  Test samples were submitted for analysis and subsequent counseling sessions were held with the person tested whether the test proved negative or positive.   During the period Magdala worked closely with the Missouri Department of Health, the St. Louis City and County Departments of Health, Research projects conducted by Washington University and the American Red Cross.

6.       Employee Assistance Program.  Magdala created and operated an Employee Assistance Program entitled PAS (Personal Assistance Services).  The program was designed as an employee benefit to provide counseling and other services for company’s contracting with Magdala for those services.  Magdala operated PAS for several years before finally transferring the program to another operator.  PAS is still in operation today.