Mission & History

The mission of Plaid House is to provide residential and supportive services to adolescents. Plaid House teaches skills which foster positive growth, independence and family reunification.


Just before Christmas in 1970 Katharine Merck received a telephone call from the Morris County Probation Department asking her if she could take a seventeen year old girl into her home for the holidays. They explained that the judge wanted to place her in a residential treatment center but the center was going to be closed over the holidays.

Katharine Merck,
Plaid House Founder

Though she did not have a criminal history, the judge ordered her to be placed in Clinton State Prison for Women if no alternative placement could be found. Kate, therefore, took her into her home for the holidays and learned about the plight of other girls who were often left without a place to live. That led Kate to decide to start a group home for girls in Morris County.

In 1975, the Plaid House group home opened its doors to girls and began “reweaving the lives of young people into the fabric of society.” The house began with a capacity for five girls and was staffed by two houseparents.

In the 1980’s the number of girls at the group home expanded to ten, the current number of residents. While the numbers increased so did the complexity of the problems of the residents. As a result, supervision was increased over time to a team of full-time staff working twenty-four hours a day.

In 1989, after recognizing the particular difficulties of young people who were expected to move out on their own at the age of eighteen, Thenen House was opened. Thenen House began as an independent living program providing minimal supervision for four older girls who needed a supportive place to live before going out on their own.

1990 marked the start of the Aftercare Program, designed to assist young people who are leaving placement either to return home or move out on their own. In that same year the Aging Out Program opened to provide life skills education and counseling to young people who are living outside of the family home.

In 1999 the Thenen House program was changed to a supervised transitional living program to meet the more complex needs of the young women who were being referred. The admission age for the program was lowered to sixteen and staff supervision was increased to twenty-four hours a day.

In August 2000 an additional bedroom was constructed at Thenen House to increase the capacity to five due to the growing demand for placements.

April 2003 saw the completion of an expansion construction project at the Plaid House group home, which provided much needed additional space for its residents.