DePelchin Children's Center
|Founder(s)||Kezia Payne DePelchin|
|Mission||We strengthen the lives of children by enhancing their mental health and physical well-being.|
|Formerly called||DePelchin Faith Home, DePelchin Faith Home and Children's Bureau|
DePelchin Children’s Center, founded in 1892 in Houston, Texas, is a nonprofit provider of children’s mental health, prevention and early intervention, and child welfare services. DePelchin helps more than 20,000 children and their families each year through a range of services including counseling, psychiatry, residential treatment, at-risk programs, and parent education in addition to foster care and adoption. As one of the largest centers of its kind in Houston, DePelchin coordinates over thirty different programs for children and their families at schools, community sites, and in-home as well as at DePelchin's main Memorial campus and five satellite offices. The center continues to be recognized at the state and federal level for cutting-edge programs, including a federal grant as a leading child trauma expert in Texas.
The former campus for DePelchin Children’s Center at 2700 Albany Street is designated as a City of Houston Landmark  and Texas Historic Landmark. It is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The institution, which was founded by Kezia Payne DePelchin primarily as an orphanage for young children, quickly grew to include other services. Since its inception in 1892, DePelchin Children’s Center has expanded its facilities and operations in order to offer even more services to the families of Houston.
The institution today known as DePelchin Children’s Center was founded by Kezia Payne DePelchin in 1892. DePelchin was born in the Madeira Islands of Portugal on July 23, 1828, to Catherine and Abraham Payne. However, her tombstone at Forest Park Cemetery in Houston states that she was born in 1831.
Kezia had one brother, Benjamin, and three sisters, Frances, Sarah, and Catherine. After the elder Catherine died in 1833, Abraham decided to move his family to America. In late 1836, Hannah Bainton, the children’s governess, accompanied the children during their move to the United States while Abraham stayed behind in Madeira to complete unfinished business. The family ultimately found its way to Galveston, Texas, in 1837. A yellow fever outbreak swept through Galveston in 1839 soon after Abraham arrived. Prior to Abraham's arrival, Sarah and Frances had already returned to Madeira to stay with other relatives. The remaining family was afflicted with the fever; Kezia, Hannah, and Abraham were the only members of the family to survive the outbreak. Though he initially survived, Abraham was severely weakened by the illness and, as an indirect result of the fever, died June 11, 1840.
In the late summer of 1841, Kezia and Hannah moved to Houston to make a fresh start. During her first years in Houston, Kezia worked as a music teacher. She would be hired in 1877 to teach in Houston’s first public schools. On August 23, 1862, Kezia Payne married a musician, Adolf DePelchin. Within a year, Kezia could not endure Adolf’s financial recklessness any longer and the two parted ways; however, they never legally divorced. With her acquired immunity to yellow fever, Kezia Payne DePelchin nursed the victims of the disease during the epidemics that struck Houston and also traveled to aid yellow fever victims in cities as far away as Memphis, Tennessee, and Senatobia, Mississippi, between 1878 and 1879.
When DePelchin returned to Houston, she became the first female matron of Bayland Orphans’ Home for Boys, which cared for young boys between the ages of six and twelve. In 1892, when DePelchin was approached with three orphan boys too young to be taken in by Bayland, she asked her friend Agnes Perry to open up a room in her house to care for the three boys. This small act effectively created the institution today known as DePelchin Children’s Center. The number of children being taken in by DePelchin grew, and the institution moved to larger buildings to accommodate the additional children. Within a year of founding her Faith Home, DePelchin died on January 13, 1893, at the age of 64, from a bout of pneumonia she contracted while walking the five miles (8 km) between Bayland Orphans’ Home and her Faith Home. DePelchin often opted for this walk instead of riding a carriage in order to save a nickel that could be spent on the children. To carry on her work, DePelchin’s friends and family secured a charter on March 24, 1893, to incorporate DePelchin Faith Home officially. When asked what DePelchin would call her institution, she responded, "I suppose I will have to call it my 'faith home.' I'm entirely dependent on my faith in God and the good people of Houston to support it."
Name and address changes
1892: DePelchin dubs 2500 Washington Avenue, the address of Agnes Perry’s house, her “faith home.” On March 24, 1893, after DePelchin’s death, a charter is secured so that her work can be continued.
1899: Because of a growing number of children in its care, the DePelchin Faith Home moves to a larger building on the corner of Chenevert and Pierce Streets.
1913: An even larger building is constructed at 2700 Albany Street to accommodate the growing number of children.
1928: The institution’s charter is renewed and its name changes to "DePelchin Faith Home and Children’s Bureau" in order to reflect the enlarged scope of the former Faith Home. The agency’s new charter extends its field of services to include the general care of children, including foster home service, adoption, and protective work.
1934: A 50-acre (200,000 m2) farm near Spring, Texas, is acquired for use as a summer camp.
1937: Partially with the help of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), construction on a 12-acre (49,000 m2) lot at 100 Sandman Street begins. This site, though now larger, still serves as DePelchin’s main campus.
1983: The name is changed from "DePelchin Faith Home and Children’s Bureau" to "DePelchin Children’s Center," the name the organization still carries today, and one that better reflects its expanded services. The institution scales back its number of beds while expanding in other areas such as counseling, post-adoption services, maternity care, parent-preparation, and special education.
2002: Following a successful capital campaign, DePelchin Children's Center moves into a large, new facility with the address of 4950 Memorial Drive, where the facility occupies the same physical lot as before.
The building at 2700 Albany Street that housed DePelchin Faith Home between 1913 and 1938 was specially designed by architecture firm Mauran & Russell. This incarnation of Faith Home features an open arcade on the bottom story with Doric columns to support a classical cornice; the structure was modeled after an Italianate villa, a popular architectural movement in late 19th century America. The design contains characteristics emblematic of the architectural trends of the era such as sleeping porches and a flat roof that projects far out with broad eaves. The National Register of Historic Places recognizes this building for its architectural significance as well as for its importance in social history. The building is also recognized as a City of Houston Landmark and a Texas Historic Landmark.
Negro Child Center
On November 30, 1947, DePelchin Faith Home and Children’s Bureau formally dedicated the opening of its Negro Child Center. The center stood at 1900 Solo Street in Houston's Fifth Ward and was notable for being the first institution of its kind in the South to welcome African-American children in need. The dedication was the result of seven years’ effort on the part of Houston residents, an effort that started after DePelchin took in its first African-American children in 1939.
Eva Burmeister, a respected social worker, praised DePelchin Faith Home and Children’s Bureau as “one of the finest in the country” for its dedicated commitment to helping children of all races and for its unique layout. Similar institutions in the United States at the time typically designed their residence buildings in a dormitory style, but DePelchin modeled its residence buildings in a cottage layout, meaning that children were housed in several free-standing, small buildings rather than one large building. This arrangement was thought to be more conducive to creating a healthy home environment than was a dormitory-style building.
Mergers and acquisitions
1987: On September 22, a temporary emergency shelter for adolescents and teenagers managed by Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) in Richmond, Texas, is incorporated into DePelchin Children’s Center.
1992: On April 1, DePelchin Children’s Center merges with Houston Child Guidance Center, which represents a major expansion for DePelchin in the field of mental health. The Houston Child Guidance Center, founded by Ima Hogg in 1929, was a pioneer of mental health services because it offered an alternative to hospitalization. Its focus was on family involvement, working with the entire family to mitigate the problem. The organization tried to keep children in their homes to maintain the family network, which it felt to be important for mental health. DePelchin entered the mental health field in 1982 with the establishment of Cullen Bayou Place, named in honor of a $5 million endowment from the Cullen Foundation. The facility functioned as a psychiatric hospital that specialized in caring for children and adolescents.
DePelchin’s services revolve around three core areas: mental health, prevention and early intervention, and child welfare.
DePelchin offers comprehensive mental health services including individual and family counseling, psychiatric evaluation and medication management as well as psychological testing. Its team of mental health experts serves children and their families seeking help on issues ranging from ADHD and anger management to severe childhood trauma. In 2009, DePelchin expanded its range of services to offer an autism assessment program that provides evaluation, social skills training for children with autism, and support groups for family members.
DePelchin also offers prevention and early intervention programs to promote healthy families and decrease the future need for more intensive services. This includes services to at-risk youths facing substance abuse, truancy, and other issues; teen pregnancy prevention; assistance to pregnant and parenting teens; and family education programs to improve parenting skills and decrease risk factors leading to abuse and neglect. These programs are offered throughout the Greater Houston community at schools, community centers, and in homes. DePelchin also offers general parenting classes to strengthen families and help those coping with divorce.
DePelchin's child welfare services encompass foster care, adoption, and post-adoption. In some cases, children who have been removed from their birth homes by Child Protective Services (CPS) can be reunited with their families. Otherwise, these children are placed in foster care or adoptive homes. DePelchin also provides infant adoption services to birth mothers and fathers desiring to place their unborn or newborn infants into adoptive homes. Post-adoption services include support groups, parent education, 24-hour crisis intervention and access to DePelchin's residential treatment centers, which house children on one of two campuses for specialized, intensive treatment.
DePelchin Children’s Center’s main campus is located at 4950 Memorial Drive. In addition, there are multiple satellite locations throughout the Greater Houston area, including Stafford, Baytown, The Woodlands, Richmond, and Clear Lake.
DePelchin contracts with The University of Texas Charter School system to provide on-grounds, state-accredited educational services for the children in residential treatment on the main campus in Houston and in Richmond, Texas.
Kezia DePelchin Award
The Kezia DePelchin Award was established in 1998 as a way to honor individuals who are committed to serving as advocates for the mental health and physical well-being of children.
1999: Ann G. Trammell
2000: Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter
2001: Pediatrician Dr. Thomas Berry Brazelton
2002: Anne S. Duncan
2003: Doctor Peggy B. Smith
2005: Catherine and Robert Mosbacher, Jr.
2006: Flo and Bill McGee
2007: Bobbie and John Nau III, CEO of Silver Eagle Distributors
2008: CEO of Hines Interests Limited Partnership Jeff Hines and wife Wendy
2009: Jesse H. Jones II
2011: The Honorable James Baker, III and Susan Garrett Baker
After the Houston branch of the Florence Crittenton services switched management to DePelchin Children’s Center in 1982, DePelchin became a formal member of the Florence Crittenton’s Family of Agencies.
An established alliance between DePelchin Children's Center and the Menninger Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine provides training opportunities to the child psychiatry residents of the Baylor College of Medicine. Moreover, PhD psychology students rotate through DePelchin, providing counseling for children at outpatient sites and in the Houston residential treatment center.
DePelchin is a member of the Alliance for Children & Families, a national membership organization that supports education and training for organizations serving children and families, as well as the Texas Alliance for Child and Family Services, an organization that provides nonprofits with advocacy, public policy, and technical assistance.
DePelchin is also licensed as a Child Placing agency and a Child Care agency by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS). This state agency is charged with the welfare and protection of children and is responsible for issuing licenses to organizations that permit them to operate residential treatment facilities, provide foster care, and place children in adoptive homes.
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DePelchin currently has a license for a Child Placing Agency and four branches located in Baytown, Clear Lake, Stafford and The Woodlands in addition to the main campus in Houston, Texas. DePelchin also operates two General Residential Operations focusing on residential treament care. Information regarding compliance with the State of Texas rules and laws can be found at http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Care/Search_Texas_Child_Care/CCLNET/Source/CPA/ppSearchTXChildCare2.aspx
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