This booklet is dedicated to Harold D. Showalter, ACSW

This booklet is dedicated to
Harold D. Showalter, ACSW
During his two decades as executive director
and as president of Presbyterian Children’s Services, he exemplified
Christ’s wish that each of us give our life in service to the least.
The examples Harold gave to the children who looked to him for
well being, as well as to his fellow care givers, were as mentor,
coach, compassionate critic and friend. His service continues
today through his past visionary leadership as a contributing editor
to this edition of our history.
Nested in the
foothills of the Ozark
mountains, Farmington,
Missouri, began and grew
as a farming community.
The richness of the ores
found nearby soon brought
promise of real industry to
the area, but it also brought
social problems to its many
small mining towns.
One such problem
was the lack of adequate
schools for the children; so
in 1836, the Elmwood
Butler Hall was one of the first buildings occupied by children
Seminary for Girls opened
at Elmwood Presbyterian Orphanage.
its doors to provide
education to young ladies in the community. In 1847, Milton P. Cayce completed a
school building on Liberty Avenue in Farmington and secured as his first teacher, Miss
Mary Ott, of Baltimore. Another teacher at Elmwood was the Reverend George W.
Harlan, who taught from 1865 to 1868 and who was also pastor of Farmington
Presbyterian Church until 1881. The school served well and faithfully until development
of public education throughout the state made its place and methods outmoded.
At about the same time several ministers of the Potosi Presbytery, (among them
Rev. Harlan), became touched by the plight of the homeless children of the “lead belt.”
Because of mining accidents, there were always orphaned children and never enough
homes for them. The ministers found they could acquire the Elmwood Seminary
property if they could pay a $12,000 debt. It was a fortunate first step, as there was the
large brick school building, a house and an old cabin on the property.
Mrs. James Gay (Margaret) Butler, a member of Second Presbyterian Church in
St. Louis, generously donated $15,000 to the project, and the orphanage named the
converted school building Butler Hall in her honor. Her donation cleared the debt and
left an additional $3,000 for repairs and furnishings.
In 1914, the Elmwood Seminary property became Elmwood Presbyterian
Orphanage. The first superintendent of the orphanage was the Reverend E.O. Sutherland,
upon whose shoulders rested the responsibility of launching the institution. The first
supervisor was Miss Nettie Ward, and the first two children to enter, Elbert and Hazel
Kyle, ages 6 and 4, came on May 15, 1915.
For the next 55 years, the orphanage provided a high level of care for as many as
145 children at a time. It was clearly a project of faith and hard work, with an everpresent problem of limited resources.
The Potosi Presbytery and the Synod of Missouri (Presbyterian Church, U.S.)
struggled to provide support for the home until 1917 when the Synod of Missouri (The
United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.) joined in sponsoring the orphanage. The
home then became the Presbyterian Orphanage of Missouri – the only Presbyterian
childcare facility in the nation directly related to both the northern (UPCUSA), and the
southern (PCUS), Presbyterian churches. It continued to be so until the reunion of the
two church bodies in 1984.
In 1919, the Reverend William S. Stinson assumed duties as superintendent of the
orphanage. Mrs. Stinson and their three children accompanied him. Rev. Stinson was
the eldest child in a fatherless family of six, and had worked at an early age to support his
mother and five sisters. Under his supervision, the orphanage began serving children
who were not necessarily orphans, but who could not be properly cared for at their
natural homes. Butler Hall was the home of 115 children at this time. The kitchen and
laundry were in the basement. The reception room, study hall, dining room and three
rooms for workers were on the first floor. When the weather was bad, the only places to
play were the hallway or study hall if it was not in use.
An invaluable and delightful asset
to the history of the Presbyterian
Orphanage, the predecessor of
Presbyterian Children’s Services, was its
printing press. During the early years the
press enabled the orphanage to publish a
newsletter on a regular basis. The
newsletter’s name changed with the times
publications contained the antiquated
typefaces of the old lead press, a
beautifully dated writing style and historic
photographs. The Newsletter later evolved
ultimately THE BRIDGE, our present
newsletter. For a time, the press, operated
by some of the boys at the orphanage,
helped to earn income for the home but
eventually lost money and was sold.
The front page of the tiny ELMWOOD HOME NEWS contained the following in
January of 1916:
The Elmwood Presbyterian Home for Children is the helping hand
of the Presbyterian Church, extended to those in distress. It will receive
orphan and other needy children, and provide home comforts, mother
love and industrial training under Christian influences. The Home is
supported by the Presbyterian People of Missouri, but contributions from
any who wish to help in the work will be gratefully received.
Printed by the Boys of the Elwood Home.
In a newsletter printed at the orphanage in 1922, the Stinson’s outline their
financial report and wrote the following news:
We are endeavoring to answer the questions that are in the minds of
our contributors concerning the work and progress of our home by using
this side of our monthly letter. Our oldest girl was asked to name the
outstanding fact concerning our home. She exclaimed at once, “It is a
home and not an institution!” We are surely doing our best to make this
The following are some of the ways we seek to make the above
statement true: During the summer our older boys work for the people of
Farmington and vicinity; also some of them work mornings and evenings
and Saturdays during the school months. The money they thus earn is
turned over to Miss Ward who like a wise mother guides them in buying
their own clothing.
The responsibility of running the heating plant and steam sterilizer is
placed on one boy; the care of the kitchen and laundry fires on another.
Five girls wash dishes and four care for the dining room while two
boys run the dumb waiter. Four boys twelve years of age, care for the
cows and do the milking. Two boys feed the hogs. A farmer who sees our
hogs every day says he never saw any do better. The older girls do their
own mending and that of a younger sister or some other little girl
assigned to them.
Under supervision both boys and girls make beds and sweep
and halls.
ate family style
small tables with an adult.
Children ate family style at
tables with an adult.
After the death of Reverend Stinson in 1930, Mrs. Stinson, at the Board’s
encouragement assumed the role of superintendent and managed it heroically during the
period of the Depression. But her arduous duties took a heavy toll and in 1939 she was
obliged to resign. The Reverend Peter W. Fischer of St. Louis succeeded Mrs. Stinson.
The administration building
housed offices as well a dining
hall and later, dormitories.
The family of F.H. Peters made a gift of Peters Shoe Company stock, valued at
$15,000, in 1932. This gift served as the nucleus of a building fund. By 1939, the
orphanage had received sufficient additional funds to proceed with the construction of the
administration building, which was completed in March of 1940. It rests on what is now
known as the town campus of Farmington Children’s Home.
By 1940, Presbyterian Orphanage of Missouri, Farmington, had moved out of the
Depression years. Until 1943, the home farmed a rented eight-acre tract on the west
limits of Farmington. The cows were driven in to the campus for milking. The boys
gardened a portion of the campus.
Earl Woodard, a former resident, remembers this period well.
“I remember we had about four acres to garden at the orphanage.
We learned a lot about gardening because we ate what we grew and we
canned a lot of it. It was funny now that I think about it because we
drove the cows in for milking through town – or part of the town. I
remember stealing eggs, too, from where the orphanage kept its supplies;
and when it was our turn to feed the fire in the furnace we’d put them in
a can full of water and place them on top of the furnace to boil. The
lady who was in charge of us was big and was strict. She came down
one time when we had the eggs on top of the furnace to boil. We were
scared to death, but apparently she couldn’t see very well because she
say anything.
just from
this timeShe
a gift
Frederick E. Woodruff made the building
of a new hospital possible. Holmes Hall, the former Belle R. Holmes Hospital given by
Mrs. Woodruff in memory of her mother, was dedicated in 1940.
Boys helped with work on
the farm.
Then, through gifts donated by Joseph Sunnen of St. Louis, the home undertook
the purchase of an 85-acre farm to raise food for the children. Farmland was purchased
on June 9 of 1942, as the September issue of THE ORPHAN’S MESSENGER
After a thorough investigation of the facts concerning costs of produce, meat
and dairy feed we found it would be a paying proposition to own a farm. The
small rented acreage, which we worked, netted a worthwhile profit.
The farm committee looked at several farms and had the opinion of the
Doane Agricultural Service to verify its findings. They settled on the Kosky farm
a little less than two miles from the Orphanage on the northeastern edge of the
town. It consists of 85.9 acres, quite level, all of which are under cultivation and
pasture. The 25 acres of pasture are sufficient for our herd and is well watered
by a spring. The cultivated land has not been abused and is quite productive.
The orchard consists of 75 fruit trees and a grape vineyard that last year
produced 2,000 pounds of grapes.
The buildings consist of one six-room house in perfect condition; a barn large
enough for a dairy herd of 21 cows, 4 horses and a winter feed shed with a loft
that will hold 50 tons of hay. The barn will need a new roof and a cement floor
for the dairy side as a sanitary measure. Work on this side has already begun.
There is a tool shed, hog house, corn crib, brooder house, chicken house, smoke
house – all of which are in serviceable condition, and need only minor repairs.
There is a good cistern, a deep well and springhouse, electric light and telephone
line. The roads to the farm are gravel but always open.
We were too late to get the crop, but the fruit was donated to us. Fourteen
bushels of grapes and seven bushels of pears were gathered at the time of this
writing . . . Mr. Lewis Asher, our farmer, has moved into the house and dairy
herd and pigs will be moved as soon as the barn is ready.
We purchased some farm machinery and two horses at the sale of assets . . .
The mortgage can be taken up any time we have the money on hand. This will
save the interest as well as release the principal for the government war needs.
Though some improvements had yet to materialize, Lewis Asher was invited to
join the staff of the orphanage as farm manager, and he stayed for 36 years. (The lake at
the farm campus now bears his name.) He and the children were very busy that year.
They wrote:
Sammy, the bull calf, is the latest addition to our farm. He was sent
to us as a special gift of Mr. And Mrs. Barron of Polar Bluff and their
son Robert. He is a registered Jersey and will replace Hercules, of whom
we now have several heifers.
Plans are perfected for the poultry department of the farm. We are
going to build a hen house to house 150 hens. We are waiting our turn
with the contractor and also for proper temperature to pour the concrete
foundation and floor. We have a shed that will do for a brooder house
and we will start with the baby chicks and raise the pullets as
foundation stock.
We butchered nine hogs this fall. Most of the meat is already
eaten. We have eight shoats that will be ready soon, and twelve little
pigs in two litters.
Among our Christmas gifts was one of $2,000.00 from Mr. And
Mrs. Joseph Sunnen to be placed in the Building and Farm fund. We
are using it with the $4,000.00 sent by the Sunnens before to pay for the
greater part of the farm, and the farm will be named “Joseph Sunnen
Anecdotes are traded about the farm to this day. Maude Asher, Lewis Asher’s
wife, recalls a story about a child named Verlin:
“Verlin went out to the chickens, and there by the poultry house
was a skunk with a chicken in its mouth. Verlin looked around, and
the only thing he could find was a broom, so he grabbed the broom and
started beating the skunk with it. The skunk let go of the chicken, but
Verlin got what was coming to him. We had to bury Verlin’s clothes
out in the back and give him a bath in tomato juice.”
The poultry operation eventually
housed 20,000 chickens.
Carl Harris, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Agricultural School and a
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company employee, who renovated and sold foreclosed
farms, soon arranged for the purchase of the neighboring 120-acre Giessing farm. He
then used it to generate a hog-raising program so that the boys could learn scientific
farming and help to solve the problem of feeding the residents of the home. Six board
members provided the funds for the purchase of six registered cows, which ultimately led
to a sizable herd. Back in town, a large dining room and kitchen added to the
administration building allowed the children room to eat together on a regular basis.
During the next couple of years the older boys of the home moved to the farm,
and the orphanage built two new log cottages there. Harris Cottage was named in honor
of Carl Harris, who was then board chairman and who continued to improve the farm
program. The other was called St. Francois, in recognition of local citizens who
supported the home.
Reverend Fischer left to rejoin the ministry in 1945 and accepted a pastorate near
Decatur, Illinois. The Reverend Fred A. Walker came from a pastorate in Dallas, Texas,
to become the fifth superintendent.
In 1944, the Ringling Brothers’ Circus fire at Hartford, Connecticut, shocked the
world. Warnings that “it can happen here” resulted in inspection of the premises and
Butler Hall was condemned. A new sleeping wing for small boys was built in the north
of the administration building and another for the girls on the south, which were both
dedicated in 1946. Thus, it was possible for all small children to live in fireproof
In 1948, Superintendent Walker accepted the position of president of his alma
mater, the University of the Ozarks, in Arkansas.
The Reverend William M. Griffin replaced him as superintendent after six years
as head of the Dwight Indian Training School for Boys and Girls in Oklahoma. The farm
program especially interested him and many improvements there were because of Rev.
Griffin’s wise planning. He also helped displaced persons find homes during the war.
A caring public continued to support the home. In 1950, the Women’s
Association of the West Presbyterian Church of St. Louis donated a “merry-go-round
swing” to the orphanage. Also that year, Pevely Dairy donated $4,000 toward the cost of
a new dairy barn.
In December of 1950 some of the children wanted to write for the orphanage’s
newsletter, THE CHILDREN”S VOICE. There is what Martha wrote:
“My name is Martha Jane Hays. I am 14 years old. I have been in
the Home eight years. I think it is a wonderful place for children to be
raised. We have the best of food, the best of care and a lot more
privileges than the town kids have. It is a swell place, but I have one
think again the Home. I don’t like so many people to tell me what to
do. There are at least seven people to satisfy and doing everything that
want I consider a hard job.”
Presbyterian churches, church groups and
individuals continued to be the primary supporters
of the home. In 1951, Superintendent Fred Walker
returned to supervise the orphanage. Dearing Hall,
given by Mrs. Ada M. Dearing in memory of her
husband, F.H. Dearing, was near completion. The
cottage housed nine girls. The women of
Higginsville Presbyterian Church made a memorial
gift of the guest room. The living room was a gift
of the Women’s Association of First Presbyterian
Church of Kirkwood. The Laura Howard Group of
the Poplar Bluff Church, together with Mr. A.B.
Howard, established a memorial by furnishing the
cottage counselors’ quarters.
Dearing Hall housed girls on
the campus of Presbyterian
Home for Children.
Harlan Hall was dedicated in honor of Mrs. And Mrs. William M. Harlan
of Farmington in 1954. Harlan accommodated boys 11 to 13 years of age.
Society’s needs continued to change. The report of the Committee on
Policy for Admission of Children into the Presbyterian Orphanage stated that any
child without an adequate home should be admitted into the orphanage.
Accordingly, in 1952, the Presbyterian Orphanage of Missouri became the
Presbyterian Home for Children.
During the next several years, the Board of Trustees and Superintendent
Walker considered social casework possibilities for the home. Grafton Lothrop,
president of the Board of Trustees, appointed a committee to study the matter of
social casework as it applied to the home. Dr. Stuart H. Salmon, chairman of the
committee, recommended that a college graduate might be supported through
graduate studies in social services administration at the expense of the home. In
exchange, the student would perform some part-time work and one full year of
work at the home upon graduation. Dr. Walker also recommended that the home
cooperate in an organization of the child welfare agencies in the state of Missouri.
Program changes meant that facilities and staffing would change as well.
B.H. Jennings donated ten acres of land on the Castor River in Madison County
near Marquand, Missouri, to the home in 1957. Two log cabins from the farm
were moved there, provisions were made for the construction of the other
recreational buildings and facilities, and Camp Jennings opened as a country
retreat for the children.
In 1958, three cottages on the farm campus were dedicated: Green
Cottage in honor of Mr. And Mrs. A.P. Green of Mexico, Missouri; Harris
Cottage, in honor of Carl E. Harris of St. Louis; and Lothrop Cottage, in honor of
Grafton Lathrop in St. Louis.
In 1965, John B. Goessman and Donald L. Barton, ACSW, staff members
at the local state hospital, joined the staff part-time and initiated a casework
program. The home remodeled part of the hospital building to accommodate
casework offices. Then in 1966, M. Calvin Swilley joined staff as the first fulltime caseworker.
An activity building/gymnasium was built on the farm campus in 1967. It
was felt the active boys needed an indoor play area on rainy and cold days. The
building included a gymnasium, woodworking and handicraft shops a study
hall/meeting room, dressing rooms and showers. This was a major step in
expanding the farm program to include activities other than farming.
In 1968, after twenty years of service to the home, Rev. Fred Walker
retired but continued his ministry and dedication to serving people. Rev. Walker
founded Home Life for the Elderly, a retirement center in Farmington, and the
predecessor of what is now Presbyterian Manors of Missouri.
The Reverend Gordon Monk directed the home from 1968 to 1969. In
1968, Virginia Crull, ACSW, retired as District Child Welfare Supervisor with the
State Department of Welfare and accepted the position of Supervisor of the Social
Work Department at Presbyterian Home for Children. Major changes in federal
and state laws governing child care, labor, healthy fund raising and fire safety
codes caused a sharp increase in operating costs and a marked change in the
number and kinds of clients served during the late sixties. These changes would
eventually lead to the end of the farm’s operation.
The Days of the “orphanage on the hill” were past. Broken homes and
changing cultural patterns created deeper disturbance patterns in children than in
previous years. Presbyterian Home for Children found that to meet the more
intense emotional, physical and spiritual needs of the children more money and
more highly trained staff were required.
Harold Showalter was called to Farmington to assume the Executive
Director position at Presbyterian Home for Children in 1970. Showalter brought
with him a master’s degree in social work and certification in the Academy of
Certified Social Workers, psychiatric casework and supervisory experience in
child welfare services, experience as Director of Casework services at Chillicothe
Reformatory, in the Division of Psychiatric Criminology of the State of Ohio,
residential treatment service as Director of Home Life at Boys’ Village in
Smithville, Ohio, and in psychiatric social work, and five years of experience as a
high school teacher. Presbyterian Home for Children, Inc. moved quickly into a
new era becoming a multi-service agency providing a full range of services to
families and children.
The March 1972 issue of the CHILDREN’S VOICE points to some
significant program changes at the home on an article about two important
feasibility studies conducted at that time. Perhaps the most important factor that
the studies revealed was that child care at the home was increasingly focused
toward the adolescent child; that the days of the pitter-patter of little feet at the
home were gone – or at least temporarily absent.
The studies proposed by the Director of the Presbyterian Home for
Children involve the establishment of an adolescent group home, and research
onto the feasibility of developing several local branches of professional services
to families and children, perhaps one in each of presbyterial geographical areas.
Regarding the first study, current social service statistics at the Home
show that parents, welfare departments, ministers and courts made more than 100
referrals of children here in 1971. Of these, none was under 10 years of age,
while most were in their middle adolescents. (Ed. Note: In 1989, the current
average age of child resident was 15.8 years. Also in 1989, 328 children were
served. At the time of this writing, the average age of a child resident is 15
years. In 2002, 403 children were served. “…It is clearly felt by the treatment
team that a community-based home for adolescents preparing to return to their
homes or to a foster home has now become necessary.”
The second study approved by the Board resulted from the Director’s
eighteen months of travels over the State and his experiencing numerous concerns
by active laymen and clergymen regarding the distance to Farmington for local
churchmen who want to be involved, but would also utilize its services if they
were expanded to include counseling services for the entire family.
The early seventies also included the emergence of the first on-grounds
classroom program at the Presbyterian Home for Children. Initially designed to
accommodate children who for one reason or another had problems at the public
school in Farmington, it developed into an operation which offered socialized
teaching and helped children to obtain their General Education Development
(G.E.D.) certificate.
Further growth was thus spurred. In 1977, Presbyterian Home for Children
established a family counseling office in the metropolitan area, Presbyterian
Family Services of St. Louis, and in 1978 Cayce Cottage was rebuilt in
Farmington to replace the old Cayce family residence, one of two cottages lost to
fire in 1974 and 1976, and an additional house was purchased.
Ashley Hall was
donated by Dr. Tom
Ashley in Springfield.
Today it serves as
the primary home at
Regional Girls’
Shelter in Springfield,
Responding to a community need in Springfield, Missouri, Regional Girls’
Shelter was founded in 1974 by a group of concerned citizens that included
Church Women United, the Junior League and member of the Springfield Area
Council of Churches. In 1979, it merged with Presbyterian Home for Children to
serve troubled teenaged girls within a 26-county area in southwest Missouri. It
served girls between the ages of 13 and 18, with serious problems at home, and
who have survived abuse and neglect. In 1982, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Ashley of
Springfield joined with a group of caring citizens who helped Regional Girls’
Shelter obtain a new house for the girls. The former Ashley homestead was
renovated, added to and dedicated as Cindy Ashley Cottage in memory of the
Ashley’s daughter. Then in 1988, property directly across the street became
available and a gift purchase was made possible by funds from the Neil K.
Stenger family. In addition that year, the Herschend Family Foundation donated
adjoining property to the shelter for future program expansion.
In 1981, a pressing need in northeast Missouri necessitated the
establishment of the Stubbins Memorial Regional Family and Youth Center in
Moberly, Missouri. The late John R. Stubbins, a native of Paris, Missouri,
founded it through a major gift. A large, old historic home in Moberly, already
upgraded and ready to begin serving both boys and girls from the region was
purchased. Subsequent gifts matching the initial one by Mr. Stubbins’
foundation, and an active volunteer core in this community insured the successful
“rooting” and growth of this program.
A historic home purchased with a
major gift by John R. Stubbins
houses young people at Stubbins
Memorial Regional Family & Youth
Center in Moberly, Missouri.
An important key to the successful establishment of lasting regional
programs was the formation of advisory committees and boards at each regional
site development. All boards were entitled to three voting memberships on the
corporate board of Presbyterian Children’s Services, thus recognizing grassroots
“ownership” issues as well as relationship issues all the way through to the Synod
of Mid-America. (Presbyterian Children’s Services was at that time a Mission
Program of the Synod, but ultimately, because of the agency’s growth and the
Synod’s increased potential liability, that legal relationship changed to a Covenant
one in the early 90’s, which continues to this day).
Also that year, the development and public relations office was moved
from Farmington to St. Louis.
This overall expansion led to a change in the corporate name in 1983 to
Presbyterian Children’s Services, Inc.; and Presbyterian Home for Children,
Farmington, became a program of Presbyterian Children’s Services, as were those
programs in Springfield, Moberly, and St. Louis. In 1986, Presbyterian Family
Support Services was formed in Wichita through a major funding effort of local
churches. Its Mother-to-Mother program provided a team effort to help women
with limited resources and the responsibility help of a family. Presbyterian Family
Support Services emphasized the worth of each family member and focused on
family strengths, offering enrichment programs and providing trained volunteer
support to those in need. Additionally, stepfamily and blended parent support
groups, teen hot line and family life trauma programs rounded out its three-year
services under the auspices of Presbyterian Childrens Services. In January of
1989, the Presbytery of Southern Kansas took this program under care.
The dedication of Odell Hall in Farmington in 1987 to the memory of Dr.
Richard T. Odell, an orthopedist and former resident,
was an honorable tribute to Dr. Odell and the many
other residents who left Presbyterian Home for
Children to begin successful lives of their own.
In 1988, the Transition to Independent Living
program at Farmington blossomed into a full-fledged
operation designed to help maturing young adults
cross the bridge from dependence to independence.
Holmes Hall, originally built as the hospital, and Odell
Hall, became its active living centers.
The average child in care at
Presbyterian Children’s
Services is fifteen years old.
Also during 1987 & 1988, Camp Jennings was developed into a shortterm, stress-challenge, residential treatment program. After a two-year existence,
the program was terminated because its government grant resources were
discontinued. No public school support could be generated locally and
appropriate staff could not be retained for the program. The camp was ultimately
During the late 80’s and early 90’s, the approach by the state changed when it
came to placing children with behavioral dysfunctions. As a result, many of those in the
care of Presbyterian Children’s Services were children who suffered with severe
emotional problems.
By 1994, the agency knew it would need to provide more diagnostic and intensive
psychiatric treatment to the children. The Board approved a multi-million dollar
campaign, and the unique Midwest Learning Center rose from a farm field on the
Farmington campus. Costing nearly four million dollars, this large multi-purpose facility
provided 10 special-education classrooms for 100 children from both the campus and the
surrounding six school districts, a large gymnasium and dressing rooms, a food service
wing, a “secure” unit for 20 “severe-needs children”, diagnostic and treatment offices, a
library, a reception room, and an administration wing.
Midwest Learning
Center houses an
educational and
therapeutic school
and children’s home
in Farmington,
Children receive extra
attention in order to catch
up to their grade level in
Midwest Learning Center opened in September of 1996, and has operated at-or-near
capacity ever since, providing exactly the envisioned care for children so necessary in
bringing them back from their “brink,” and helping them integrate back into a more
normal life.
Under the leadership of the Reverend Lawrence Jackman, Executive Vice
President - Program, program staff were creatively developing unique cooperative
services to positively affect the lives of children both in and out of their homes in all
program site areas. These services initiated parent-child programs stabilizing at-risk
students in a school district in St. Louis, and were instituting a series of therapeutic foster
homes. All of these approaches required sources of funding other than the mainstream -and thus as a result were destined to limited, but effective, lives.
R E - D E F I N I N G “T H E F A C E O N M I S S I O N ”
Mr. Showalter retired in 1996, citing the need to open the way for new leadership
to take the agency in the new directions. The Board and senior managers were
committed to assisting the formation of a coalition of statewide agencies in development
of “wrap-around” services for families and children where they lived. This new direction
supplemented the agency’s commitment to improving even more the intensive residential
services in each PCS facility for those who needed out-of-home placement.
With his twenty-four years of continuous association with the agency as both a
Board member (four years) and a staff Vice-President for Finance and Development, Jim
Thurman was tabbed by the Board to move to the President’s chair as the agency’s ninth
administrator in its eighty-year history. His clearly demonstrated success in this agency’s
financial management, public relations, and administration were clear indicators of future
potential success for the agency. On assuming the task, Thurman recommitted
Presbyterian Children’s Services to fulfilling children’s complete needs – physical,
emotional and spiritual.
Almost immediately after an unusually smooth transition of authority, and in
response to the national mindset to control cost of care by applying a medical model
“managed care” philosophy to social services, Presbyterian Children’s Services sought to
“re-charge” its relationships and alliances with other childcare agencies.
After a year and a half of discussions Presbyterian Children’s Services joined
hands with 10 other prominent Missouri providers to form a new managed care company,
Missouri Alliance for Children and Families, LLC.
This “for profit” LLC was created in response to the State’s request for a new
“managed care” approach to child welfare in Missouri. Childcare providers in Missouri
feared that several “medical model” managed care companies would enter Missouri.
This would threaten even more the reduction of funds so scare in Missouri to serve
children. Fearing also a more prescriptive approach to the social welfare of children
these agencies set about to establish an organization capable of serving a child through a
continuum of care providing intensive in patient, step down, in home and wrap around,
services insuring stability, permanency and success as never before experienced in
Missouri. While these lead agencies were the foundation for this work, no agency in
Missouri willing to be a provider of services was excluded. The success of this program
has been the guaranteed funding through a continuum of care managed by a single source
which replaced the old “per diem” and haphazard care management system providing
only specifically targeted services without regard to permanency for the child.
The leadership of the Missouri Alliance and the reignited enthusiasm of Missouri
Coalition of Children’s Agencies, representing more than 50 member agencies working
with children and families across Missouri, created a new atmosphere within the
childcare community. MCCA’s long overdue Federal court decision, ordering a new
funding methodology, is creating new revised standards of care, legislation, and private
sector cooperation, which will lead to enhancing the lives of all “at risk” children.
Meanwhile, much work needed to be done in 2001 after the Alliance’s award by
the state of a managed services contract worth more than $20 million for the “total care of
a referred child’s needs.” This represented an entirely new approach for the private
agency’s provision of services to families and children in Missouri, requiring the 10member coalition to assume all responsibility and liability for any and all services needed
for children at a pre-determined rate.
This managed services contract meant not only the redefinition of historic turf
issues among the membership, but the rapid establishment of a coordinated web-based
interactive communication system to enable multiple organizations to coordinate all
services provided to disadvantaged families. Presbyterian Children’s Services’ own
Children’s Foundation of Mid-America was subsequently awarded one of only 46
national grants (out of 750 applicants) by a division of the U.S. Commerce Dept. for over
$400,000. This grant to enabled Presbyterian Children’s Services to lead in the
development of a web based communication and data based management network by the
Alliance. Thus it became possible for the first time in this state to immediately track and
deploy funds and services at a moment’s notice, while tracking outcomes to substantiate
credible service claims.
A new mandate and freedom now existed for continued innovation of services for
reasonable rates sufficient to enable the staff to predict a program’s reasonable chance for
survival. Examples of the current program innovations can be seen in the several cases
where this agency has literally rented a whole house in the city of St. Louis as a staff-run
“home” for just one severely disturbed child, with staff around the clock to provide a
range of structured services where all other approaches have failed to assist his
behavioral remediation. These several early cases have been remarkably successful, and
promise program expansion as a continuing opportunity for many others.
Just one of Presbyterian Children’s Services exciting new programs is Strategic
Video Intervention. With permission, videos are made of the child and family doing
things they enjoy. A trained observer then edits the video for positive interactions. This
program seeks to strengthen the positive communication skills in families thus allowing
therapists to open doors before blocked by concentration on negative behaviors. By
reinforcing the positive skills we are able to build on those positives without children or
their parents feeling threatened by the more traditional methods of emphasizing and
correcting negative behaviors. This has quickly become a major tool for Presbyterian
Children’s Services in working with families that were before called impossible to work
with. Presbyterian Children’s Services is the only organization in Missouri trained and
licensed to perform this therapy.
Crisis emergency care, family support services, foster homes, diagnostic services,
transitional living programs, and after care-services are further examples where
cooperative planning and interaction with other agencies is reducing repetition,
competition, and the overall cost of care.
Meanwhile, the long-term impact on facility-use in this agency began to become
clearer by the turn of the century. By this time, the average resident’s age was right at
15, but contrasted to the late 70’s, their stay on campus averaged only four months as
opposed to eighteen then, and their referred level of care was heavily skewed to the high
and severe treatment need range. It was decided to reduce the resident population
agency-wide from a high of 120 down to 70 by reducing the number of children in each
cottage from 12 to 8, and closing cottages on the town campus in Farmington.
Subsequently, staff numbers were also reduced from 140 to 100. Each program site
underwent a consultant-led and board-monitored strategic planning process, determining
facility appropriateness for new and possibly different program uses in an effort to
prepare the agency to “dance more lightly the dance of love” in its continued response to
the privilege of service to others.
By remaining creative and flexible, Presbyterian Children’s Services is able to
rapidly respond to the changing needs and programs required in the new millennium.
Care givers have a variety of forms of
therapy to help children heal from the hurts
of their pasts.
In summary, then, as Presbyterian
Children’s Services moves into the year
2003, its staff and boards consider
themselves both privileged and blessed. We
are privileged because we have been trusted
and supported in our rapidly changing
service environment by so many individuals,
foundations and corporations who share our
common desire to help one another. And we
are blessed by the opportunity to expand our
own growth and creative potential by being
so “connected” to such strong networks.
The integrity of our present, past, and future work is firmly anchored in our
relationships with the Presbyterian churches of mid-America, our personal friends and
major donors inside and outside the church, our trustworthy and equally competent
professional colleagues across the state, and a rich history of committed and caring staff
and volunteers who have provided such a solid foundation on which to anchor our
ongoing work of love.
And finally, it is the privilege and blessing of God’s inspiration working through
us all which keeps our perspectives and balance aright, and for which we are indeed
humbly grateful and appreciative.
The name progression of the agency reflects somewhat the program
progression in fulfilling its’ mission:
The Elmwood Presbyterian Orphanage (1914) – care for homeless
and dependent children, largely resulting from the nature of life in the
Lead Belt mining environment.
The Presbyterian Orphanage if Missouri (1917) – reflecting
support from churches throughout all Missouri.
Presbyterian Home for Children (1953) – smaller “cottages” vs. large
dormitories; more homelike intention, broader admission base.
Presbyterian Children’s Services, Inc. (1983) – a clear signal of
intention to provide a broad continuum of services to families and children
in residential & nonresidential settings; not limited to Farmington.
Leadership Chain
1914 – 1919
1919 – 1930
1930 – 1939
1939 – 1945
1945 – 1948
1948 – 1951
1951 – 1968
1968 – 1969
1970 – 1996
1996 – present
Rev. E.O. Sutherland, Superintendent
Rev. W.S. Stinson, Superintendent
Mrs. W. S. Stinson, Superintendent
Rev. Peter W. Fischer, Superintendent
Rev. Fred A. Walker, Superintendent
Rev. William M. Griffin, Superintendent
Rev. Fred A. Walker, Superintendent
Rev. Gordon Monk, Superintendent
Harold Showalter, A.C.S.W., President & CEO
James W. Thurman, President & CEO
Presbyterian Children’s Services, Inc. is a founding member of the
Missouri Child Care Association; was accredited in 1981 by the Council on
Accreditation of Services for Families and Children; and is a member of the child
Welfare League of America. It continues to work in a Covenant relationship with
Synod of Mid America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Future goals for the agency, as set forth in the agency long-range plan,
currently include: fostering healthy and constructive relationships in families and
children; certification and expansion of the on-grounds school at Midwest
Learning Center; vocational training expansion; continuing to develop internal
data and research on professional treatment approaches; striving to emphasize and
respect the differences in people; adequately funding and resourcing programs to
achieve an optimum level of care for clients; and continuing to expand and
strengthen the agency’s visibility and relationships with government, church,
corporate and community groups.
By accomplishing these goals, Presbyterian Children’s Services, Inc, will
be able to fulfill its mission statement that says, “Based on the teachings of Christ,
Presbyterian Children’s Services ministers to families and children of all faiths by
providing compassionate and therapeutic psychological, social and educational
You can learn more about Presbyterian Children’s Services by calling 800
383-8147, or the program facility nearest you. Specific information is available
Tours of the Facilities
Speakers and Meeting Programs
Estate Planning
Memorial and Honor Gifts
Volunteer Opportunities
Printed Materials
“You Who Kept Me Alive” Video
“The Lord’s Prayer” Video
Children’s Foundation of Mid-America
Presbyterian Children’s Services
1353 North Warson Road
St. Louis, MO 63132
314 989-9727
800 383-8147
Farmington Children’s Home
608 Pine Street
Farmington, MO 63640
573 756-6744
800 747-1855
Regional Girls’ Shelter
2740 East Pythian
Springfield, MO 65802
417 862-9634
Stubbins Memorial Regional Family & Youth Center
811 South Fifth Street
Moberly, MO 65270
660 263-7044