Children’s Place, Inc., has its roots in many organizations formed during the 1950s and ‘60s from grassroots efforts to help low-income working parents and their families.
Two key organizations were the Community Christian Child Care Center, born in St. Augustine’s Church in 1951, and the YWCA, also created in 1951 with the establishment of the Savannah River Plant. The Community Christian Child Care Center was formed to provide childcare for low-income working mothers and to keep older children from dropping out of school. Similarly, the YWCA offered a number of family- and children-oriented programs.
the Services Council
As the 1950s came to an end, the issue of racial equality became increasingly important. Unfortunately, the YWCA closed its doors in 1961 over the issue of racial integration; fortunately, out of the YWCA organization became the Services Council of Aiken County, combining many of the YWCA family support programs. Josie Hazel, a community leader, became the first Executive Director and the moving force behind the Services Council. The Services Council initially operated out of a four-room residence on Fairfield St., offering programs for both young and old, with a mission of providing recreational, intellectual, and moral development for children, youth, and adults. Throughout this period, the Community Christian Child Care Center continued to operate from the St. Augustine’s Church site. However, in 1970, it merged with the Services Council, which moved to the Immanuel Presbyterian Church, built in 1886, at 310 Barnwell Ave, NE.
In the early 1980’s, the Services Council Board of Directors recognized the need for children facing particularly difficult problems in their homes, such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, and parents with mental retardation, to get more help than the Services Council offered. With the help of St. John’s Methodist Church and a grant from the South Carolina Governor’s Office, the Services Council opened a small pilot project, called the Children’s Place, in the Salvation Army Shelter on Park Avenue. That project, modeled after a similar program in Kansas City, Missouri, initially served 13 children, with comprehensive treatment for both children and their families. In 1989, the Board of Directors of the Services Council changed the name to Children’s Place, Inc. In 1991 all programs were co-located in the original site on Barnwell Ave., and the daycare and treatment missions merged. In 1995, the Kid’s Help Program was added when the Family Counseling Center of Aiken closed, and in 1999, the Parent Support Network of Aiken was added. In 2000, the Board of Directors became the Aiken County affiliate of Prevent Child Abuse South Carolina, adding quality primary prevention services to our programming.