Throughout the 20th century, the children cared for at Beech Acres Parenting Center came with ever more serious problems, related both to abuse and to mental health challenges. By the 1980s, it was becoming clear that institutions were not the most effective way to raise troubled children. The residential program closed in 1989, having been replaced by a foster care program and a wide variety of social services that cared for troubled children out in the community amid a full network of relationships with parents, friends, and school. For the remainder of the 20th century, Beech Acres focused on being a high-quality provider of an array of social services designed to prevent the need for children to be placed in institutional care at all. The focus today is on ‘being where parents and children are’ rather than insisting they come to us, as a result the direct service work is done in the community, in pediatric offices and in schools.
In spring of 1849, a nationwide cholera epidemic hit Cincinnati taking the lives of 4,114 residents, most of whom were German.
The deadly disease left many children without parents. To care for them, a local Protestant German association agreed to build a new orphanage. But first they had to raise the necessary funds – so they formed the German General Protestant Orphan Society to take on the task.
The Society chose Mt. Auburn as the home of the new orphanage. To finance the purchase of four acres from Judge Burnet, plus construction, the Society held a huge fundraising fair at Masonic Hall in December, 1849. It was wildly successful raking in $4,181. The cornerstone of the new German General Protestant Orphan Home was laid in July, 1850 and the orphans moved in a year later.
The 1849 fair was the first Orphan Feast, a massive annual fundraising effort that continued for 137 years and included the biggest parade in Cincinnati. By the late 1940s, the Orphan Feast was the most popular fall event in Cincinnati and netted over $50,000.
The Home purchased a 60-acre farm on the boundary of Mt. Washington and Anderson Township, a beautiful rural setting amid stately beech trees, where the children had been accustomed to camp for a few weeks each summer.
Board Chair Everett Townsley donated one-third of the purchase price for the new location, which came to be called Beech Acres. There were six cottages housing 10 to 12 children each and a handsome administration building, arranged around a grassy circular lawn. The property remains the headquarters of Beech Acres Parenting Center.
After a century on Burnet Avenue, the Home moved and evolved into the Beech Acres Parenting Center of today. But our driving force has remained the same from the start – to help children grow into capable, contributing and caring adults.
In 1950, the first Feast held at the new Anderson Township campus attracted over 80,000 visitors. Each year, a prominent citizen was elected Officer of the Day, the chief fundraiser for the event.
By 1986, it was clear that other fundraising methods would be more effective, and with some regret over losing a long tradition, the Orphan Feast was held for the last time.
1975 - Licensed to provide Foster Care Services
Our oldest and most enduring program, Beech Acres Parenting Center became licensed to provide foster care services in the years leading up to the sunsetting of our residential care facilities. The foster care program has evolved with the times providing up-to-date training, 24-hour on-call support, and unique matching that ensures a good fit for families and their placements, plus the licensing for adoptions. Beech Acres foster care program builds a community around their foster families, so that each family knows they are not alone and has a powerful support network when they need it most.
For the Love of Kids Conference, Beech Acres Parenting Center presented the For the Love of Kids ® parenting conference from 1999 to 2011. Through the conference, we’re proud to have reached hundreds of parents striving to bring out the best in their kids. These parents joined us to gain practical parenting insight and useful ideas from dynamic national and local parenting experts.
2004 - School Based Services
Beech Acres Parenting Center began exploring meeting families where they are with our first foray into School-Based Mental Health Services in 2000. This was an innovative approach to bringing mental health services directly to students in schools. Services were offered at Heberle Elementary School and Hays Elementary School; both were located within one mile of a former office location and many kids were coming from those schools.
Building Strong Marriages and Relationships
Building Strong Marriages and Relationships served a diverse population including engaged and married couples in crisis, pregnant moms and expectant dads, single parents, couples looking for guidance to refresh their relationship or who are referred by the courts, and those who are under or unemployed.
2008 - Parent Enrichment Program
In 2008 Beech Acres Parenting Center partnered with Hamilton County Job and Family Services to begin offering the Parent Education Program (now Parent Enrichment Program) or PEP. This partnership allowed us to deliver our parenting expertise directly to the community. This program serves parents in need of education and support with parenting, parents with a desire to build their parenting skills, parents with questions about parenting, and parents who are currently active with HCDJFS. Program components include; goal setting and planning, parent coaching, parent relationship consultation, parenting mentoring, group support, and home visitation.
2011 - Family Peer Support
While trained, professional therapy and behavioral health services are important to building resilience for families, sometime parents need to hear from someone who has “been there”. The Family Peer Support Program launched inside partner schools 2011 to help support families with school age children who are experiencing behavioral difficulties or who need help managing services and resources for their family. Family Peer Support workers are parents who have firsthand experience in navigating the behavioral health system for their own family.
2016 - Parent Connext™
In 2016 Beech Acres Parenting Center launched “the future of pediatrics”. Parent Connext™ meets parents where they are at by placing Parenting Specialists onsite at Pediatric Care Practices. Parent Connext™ provides prompt, practical support through onsite parenting specialists that provide guidance for a variety of parenting challenges and links to community resources. This helps build parents’ capacity to provide a safe & nurturing environment for their children. It was designated promising-practice by the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs.
2017 - The Character Effect™
The Character Effect™ is an evidenced-based, flexible social & emotional learning program, delivering personalized, strength-focused coaching by local professionals onsite. 90% of teachers experiencing The Character Effect™ report feeling better equipped to manage student behavior. The teachers and students develop skills everyone needs to rise to the challenges of our ever-changing world.
2018 - Ohio Children’s Trust Fund Kinship Connections Program
Fueled by the opioid epidemic of the late 2010’s, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives found themselves taking care of a loved one’s children full-time. Funded by The Ohio Children’s Trust Fund and the Mental Health Recovery Services Board serving Warren and Clinton Counties, Kinship Connections team is a support network for caregivers; with monthly meetings to foster camaraderie and individuals with experience navigating the court systems & community resources.
- Family Connections and group setting learning on a wide variety of topics; including those from Positive Parenting Program (Triple P)
- Individualized kinship peer support provided in the home and community
- Service navigation to assist kinship parents and families overcome their barriers