Four Decades as Kansas City’s Place for Children’s Mental Health
The Children’s Place has proudly served the Kansas City community for more than 40 years, supporting children and families who have experienced abuse, neglect or other traumatic events. Among the first organizations in Kansas City to serve children who have experienced deep hurts, The Children’s Place has become a renowned Kansas City institution and is looked to as a model for therapeutic services around the world.
In the 1970s, there were few places in Kansas City for children to turn to when they experienced deep hurts. The mandated reporting laws for abuse and neglect had recently changed, meaning more children were being identified, yet there were few resources available to help children and families heal.
A group of concerned citizens rallied together to address this increased awareness of child abuse in the community. Professionals from the medical, social service and law enforcement communities gathered to analyze the issue and create a plan to serve children and families affected, with significant help from the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri. While the group originally intended to provide advocacy services for children, the group quickly realized there was a more pressing need for intervention services.
Opening to the Community
The Children’s Place officially launched in 1978 with its Day Treatment program, which was called a therapeutic nursery at the time, and offers therapeutic services in an early childhood environment. The agency opened its doors with an initial program serving children in three different classrooms.
The original space was a former car dealership on Wyandotte Street, which was transformed into classrooms. During the initial years, parent involvement was necessary, so the adults of the children would attend parenting groups and have lunch with the children.
Seeing a need for additional services for young children in our community, the Counseling Center opened in 1986 to provide outpatient therapy for children who have experienced any type of traumatic setback from events ranging from divorce to the grief of a loved one. The agency also began providing developmental screenings to children entering the Jackson County Children’s Division, launching the Assessments & Screenings program.
In 1998, The Children’s Place launched its parenting support program, now called Family Support Services. For many years the agency was a provider of foster parent trainings and conducted home studies. Now the program focuses on working with the adult caregivers in a child’s life, helping them learn more about how traumatic events have impacted their child and how to recognize their own needs so they can best support their child.
A New Home for The Place
In 1989 the agency moved from its original location to the heart of the Brookside neighborhood at 59th Street and Brookside Boulevard. Formerly the site of Wolferman’s Bakery, this space was the home to The Children’s Place for more than 30 years. In 2020, a dream was realized when the agency moved into its new state-of-the-art building located at the intersection of Rockhill Road and Meyer Boulevard.
The Power of Place capital campaign raised more than $12 million, generously funded by individuals, corporations and foundations in the Kansas City community, to create an inviting and cheerful place for children and families to heal and thrive. The Children’s Place was also the beneficiary of the Chiefs’ Charity Game in 2015, 2016 and 2017 providing the funds to kick start the campaign for the new space at 6401 Rockhill Road.
Our new home is nearly twice the size of the Brookside location and houses seven classrooms, additional Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT) rooms, enlarged Counseling Center, inviting Family Support Services space for caregivers, larger kitchen and designated food pantry, outdoor playground with classroom access and a welcoming lobby for clients and guests.