Guiding Harbor New CEO

Guiding Harbor is pleased to announce the selection of Jennifer Trotter, LMSW, as the new CEO. Mrs. Trotter follows Guiding Harbor’s previous CEO, Maria Lessnau, who left the organization after many years of dedicated service for a new professional challenge as Executive Director at Christ Child House in Detroit.

Jennifer Trotter joins Guiding Harbor after more than 20 years as a social worker in child welfare. She has direct care experience in foster care and family preservation. As a regional director at Judson Center, she was responsible for the oversight of program administration, staff development, fiscal management, proposal writing, program evaluation, planning and development for a variety of child welfare programs including statewide contracts, such as MARE (Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange) and Foster Care Navigators. Most recently Mrs. Trotter worked as a project manager at Samaritas where she drove strategic priorities toward the achievement of the organization’s strategic plan.

Guiding Harbor, founded by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Michigan in 1958, provides child caring and child placement services for abused and neglected children. Services include: Foster Care, Supervised Independent Living and a Residential Program. The mission of Guiding Harbor is Improving the Quality of Life for Children and Families. Jennifer Trotter started her role of CEO on April 13th, 2018.




Guiding Harbor awarded three-year CARF accreditation

Belleville, Michigan — September 21, 2011 — CARF International announced that Guiding Harbor has been accredited for a period of three years for its Foster Family and Kinship Care, Residential Treatment, and Supported Independent Living programs. This is the first three-year accreditation that the international accrediting body has awarded to Guiding Harbor.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process and has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit that its programs and services are of the highest quality, measurable, and accountable.

Guiding Harbor is a non-profit child welfare organization with offices at 525 E Huron River Drive in Belleville Michigan. It has been providing child placing and child caring services in Michigan since 1958.

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of the persons served. Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services.

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Girlstown Foundation to be known as Guiding Harbor

The nonprofit Girlstown Foundation recently changed its name to Guiding Harbor to better reflect the population it serves. Guiding Harbor has served children and families in southeast Michigan since 1958. Its residential program, which has served more than 500 adolescent females, will retain the Girlstown name as it is the only program that serves females exclusively.

The Guiding Harbor Foster Care Program provides services to children from birth to age eighteen. The program is designed to provide a nurturing setting for children who are either temporarily or permanently unable to return to their family of origin. Guiding Harbor provides support services

for foster families who care for youth as they work toward returning to their biological family.

The Supervised Independent Living Program assists young adults in developing independent living skills, enhancing educational/vocational and career choices while offering employment opportunities for 16-to 21-year olds who are physically and emotionally able to master the skills and experiences offered. Young people referred to this program must have a demonstrated history of functioning at a level appropriate for community based living. Guiding Harbor is always in need of individuals and families willing to open their hearts and homes to accept foster children and young adults. Foster parents and SIL providers are a vital part of the Guiding Harbor mission to improve the lives of children.

Girlstown offers therapeutic residential care for girls ages 12 and above who have been referred for emotional/and or behavioral problems stemming from abuse and neglect.

Call (734) 697-7242 or visit to learn more.

Those interested in becoming foster parents or SIL providers can email Christine Streu at for more information.