A history of caring for children and families
The General Protestant Orphan Home
Beech Acres Parenting Center enjoys a long and noble history of caring for Greater Cincinnati’s children. For more than 160 years, this southwest Ohio not-for-profit organization has provided help and hope for many thousands of children, parents, and families. Over the years, the purpose of Beech Acres has remained the same; to help children grow to become caring, capable, contributing, and connected adults.
Founded in 1849, the organization has evolved through three periods of its history: the Orphan Home, Social Services, and Parenting Center eras. Throughout Beech Acres’ history, it has remained focused on the needs of children, evolving as society and family needs changed. Each shift has required bold vision, courage, significant community support, and perseverance.
In 1849, the organization was founded in response to a mid-19th-century cholera epidemic, which took the lives of over 4,000 citizens – leaving many children orphaned. For the first 125 years of the organization’s history, as an orphanage, it provided a safe haven for children to grow up who had been displaced by parental death, poverty, or other family disruptions.
A much-needed shift
Social and cultural changes in the mid-20th century began to dramatically affect children and families. Divorce rates, child abuse, substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, and school failure rapidly climbed. The board of directors knew it needed to respond to the changing needs of the community’s children. For the next 25 years (1975-2000), Beech Acres shifted from “restorative” to “preventive” services to stem the tide of increasing childhood trauma. It focused on providing traditional child welfare, mental health, and other social services to children and expanded programs to serve their families as well.
In those first 150 years, board and staff members learned a critical lesson that shaped the organization’s destiny. The lesson is simple: The quality of parenting a child grows up with is the critical ingredient to that child’s becoming a capable, contributing, caring, and connected adult.
Throughout Beech Acres history, each era is also notable by an adjustment in the organization’s popular name. The founding name of the German General Protestant Orphan Asylum was shortened during World War I, to the General Protestant Orphan Home.
Upon moving to 60 acres of beech trees on the line between Mt. Washington and Anderson Township, previously known as the “Beeches” in 1949, the organization was known as Beech Acres-The General Protestant Orphan Home. During the Social Services era (1975-2000), Beech Acres became more commonly used, as references to the orphanage waned.
Beech Acres Parenting Center
The shift in focus to the relationship between parents, or other dedicated adults, and their children, seen in the first decade of the 21st century, resulted in a change to the current name, Beech Acres Parenting Center. The challenging, yet rewarding, responsibility of rearing the next generation belongs to all of us.
Today, as a parenting center, the organization still serves children everyday, but does so hand-in-hand with their parents and other caregivers. We believe that proactively working with children, parents and caregivers together promotes sustainable change. The parenting center provides parents and other dedicated adults with the tools they need to shift from raising children in a reactive mode to one which is more intentional and focused on the strengths of the child and parent.