Our History

Whaley Children’s Center is a private, nonprofitresidential child caring institutionwhich serves children who havesuffered chronic and profound abuse and neglect.The services provided tochildren and familiesinclude residential treatment, group homes,& family counseling and aftercare services.

Was the Whaley Children’s Center created in honor of a child?
Yes! The idea to create a children’s home such as The Donald M. Whaley Children’s Center was conceived in the 1880’s when Robert J. Whaley, saddened by the death of his only son, thought of a special way to honor him. Donald, who had died in 1880 at the age of eleven years, had been saving money to give to an orphanage in Detroit.

 

This act of generosity motivated Robert Whaley to bequeath funds in his will to build the Donald M. Whaley Home in memory of Donald. The home was to provide care for “homeless and neglected children.”

When was the Donald M. Whaley Memorial Home (better known today as Whaley Children’s Center) built?
The Memorial Home was built in 1926 under the leadership of Charles Stewart Mott, 1st President of the Whaley Foundation.

 

There have been a number of significant additions to Whaley facilities and programs during the succeeding years. In 1955, a recreational building with a gym, craft room and two classrooms was built on campus. In 1964, the children’s living units in the Memorial Building underwent a major renovation for the first time since the building was built. In 1969 the group home program was begun.

 

Today, thanks to the generosity of local Service Clubs, Kiwanis, Optimist, Rotary and Zonta, there are four high quality group homes located in nearby neighborhoods.

How was Whaley Children's Center a pioneering organization?
In 1977, Whaley was one of the first agencies to offer a Treatment Foster Care Program that provided children an opportunity to live with a specially trained family. During the same year Whaley opened the Educational Center, attached to the Recreational Building that houses five classrooms, several offices and a meeting room. In 1982, a Special Needs Adoption program was begun.

 

In 1984, The Whaley Community Board of Directors was organized and assumed oversight of the day-to-day operations and in the same year, development efforts actively focused on debt reduction and the provision of modern facilities. During the following few years, well-known events such as the World’s Greatest Office Party, A Whaley of an Auction and the Whaley Golf Outing were launched.

 

In 1989, a major capital campaign to build a new children’s residential center was initiated and successfully raised over two million dollars in three years.

Which famous family assisted The Whaley Memorial Foundation with the funding and building of our Children’s Residential Center?
A, Mott. In 1991, the C. S. and Ruth Rawlings Mott Residential Center was opened as a state of the art residential treatment center. In 1993, the Whaley Memorial Building was remodeled into a functional office building for clinical, foster care, adoption, administrative, human resource, finance and development offices. In 1997, a successful Endowment Campaign was established.

Does Whaley Children’s Center maintain a program philosophy called the Circle of Courage?
Yes. In 2000, Whaley introduced the Circle of Courage as the program philosophy. The Circle of Courage is a strengths based approach that is making a difference in the services being provided to the children.

 

This strength-based model requires adults and caregivers to assess, treat and interact with children with the belief that they have strengths to be supported and developed in each of four areas: Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity. When children’s needs are met in each of the four areas, it helps to improve their overall daily functioning as well as to increase their ability to become productive citizens.

 

Children are empowered to take an active role in their own development. An important goal for the staff of Whaley Children’s Center is to help each child emerge from the program knowing that they are important and how to love themselves. The next step, then, is for them to learn how to care for others. Whaley Children’s Center is a private, nonprofit residential child caring institution which serves children who have suffered chronic and profound abuse and neglect.

 

The services provided to children and families include residential treatment, group homes, and family counseling and aftercare services.

Whaley Children’s Center is a private, nonprofit residential child caring institution which serves children who have suffered chronic and profound abuse and neglect. The services provided to children and families include residential treatment, group homes, family counseling and aftercare services.

The idea to create a children’s home such as The Donald M. Whaley Children’s Center was conceived in the 1880’s when Robert J. Whaley, saddened by the death of his only son, thought of a special way to honor him.

 

Donald, who had died in 1880 at the age of eleven years, had been saving money to give to an orphanage in Detroit. This act of generosity motivated Robert Whaley to bequeath funds in his will to build the Donald M. Whaley Home in memory of Donald.

 

The home was to provide care for “homeless and neglected children.” Robert J. Whaley had been President of Citizens Bank for forty-one years at the time of his death in 1922. The Flint Journal story reporting his death stated: “Mr. Whaley was a conspicuous figure in Michigan’s industrial and financial history for more than half a century. He believed that every good citizen should be willing to give some time to public affairs.”

 

The Whaley Foundation was incorporated January 26, 1924. The fund was left to the trusteeship of the wardens and vestry of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Charles Stewart Mott and C.F. Barth, President and Vice-President of the Trustees, wanted the best and most modern type of children’s home consistent with the will. They consulted with the Child Welfare League of America who surveyed the needs of Flint and recommended that “The Whaley Fund equip itself with a place and staff to serve dependent and neglected children in general without distinction to race and creed and particularly to those cases that were in trouble because of health and behavior conditions that had not been diagnosed and remedied.”

 

The Memorial Home was built in 1926 under the leadership of Charles Stewart Mott, 1st President of the Whaley Foundation. There have been a number of significant additions to Whaley facilities and programs during the succeeding years. In 1955, a recreational building with a gym, craft room and two classrooms was built on campus. In 1964, the children’s living units in the Memorial Building under went a major renovation for the first time since the building was built. In the 1969 the group home program was begun. Today, thanks to the generosity of local Service Clubs, Kiwanis, Optimist, Rotary and Zonta, there are four high quality group homes located in nearby neighborhoods.

 

In 1977, Whaley was one of the first agencies to offer a Treatment Foster Care Program that provided children an opportunity to live with a specially trained family. During the same year Whaley opened the Educational Center, attached to the Recreational Building, that houses five classrooms, several offices and a meeting room. In 1982, a Special Needs Adoption program was begun. In 1984, The Whaley Community Board of Directors was organized and assumed oversight of the day-to-day operations and in the same year, development efforts actively focused on debt reduction and the provision of modern facilities.

 

During the following few years, well-known events such as the World’s Greatest Office Party, A Whaley of an Auction and the Whaley Golf Outing were launched. In 1989, a major capital campaign to build a new children’s residential center was initiated and successfully raised over two million dollars in three years.

In 1991, the C. S. and Ruth Rawlings Mott Residential Center was opened as a state of the art residential treatment center. In 1993, the Whaley Memorial Building was remodeled into a functional office building for clinical, foster care, adoption, administrative, human resource, finance and development offices. In 1997, a successful Endowment Campaign was established.

 

In 1998, The Vestry of St. Paul’s Church and the Whaley Children’s Center Community Board together agreed to change the corporate structure thus allowing Whaley Children’s Center to operate separately from the church. The Vestry, as Trustees of the Whaley Memorial Foundation, recognized that the future of the Children’s Center required an involved and active board of Directors.

 

They knew the time was right to let Whaley stand on its own. This separation plan was approved by Genesee County Probate Court in January 1999. The vestry and members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church voted on the plan at their annual meeting in February of 1999. New articles of Incorporation were filed with the state before The Board of Directors of Whaley Children’s Center approved their new bylaws in June of 1999. The wardens and vestry of St. Paul’s Church, as directed by the will, retained the remainder of the original Whaley fund. Whaley Children’s Center controls the operating assets, buildings and endowment funds.

 

In 2000, Whaley introduced the Circle of Courage as the program philosophy. The Circle of Courage is a strengths based approach that is making a difference in the services being provided to the children. In 2004, due to the state’s rate setting formula Whaley was unable to cover the losses created by the treatment foster care program and adoption program. These programs were eliminated and Whaley is now collaborating with other agencies to provide these services.

 

Although the times have changed, the mission of Whaley Children’s Center remains as vital today as it did in 1926. The need to serve “dependent and neglected children” and especially those “in trouble because of behavioral conditions” is being successfully met because of a very rich history of community, volunteer, Board and staff commitment.

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