A History of Caring for Children and Families
Throughout the 20th century, the children cared for at Beech Acres 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, replaced by a vigorous 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.
In celebration of the 150th anniversary, the Board and staff asked what Beech Acres could give back to the community that had supported them so generously. What had we learned in 150 years of caring for children? What one thing makes the most difference in the lives of the children? The answer was unanimous – the most important thing in a child’s life is the quality of parenting they receive. In 1999, Beech Acres held For the Love of Kids, a conference to celebrate parenting. Anticipating 200 participants, the first FLOK attracted 1,000. For a decade the conference continued helping parents learn about key topics in raising children.