Our History

Crittenton Centers has been serving Peoria and all of central Illinois since 1892. Originally conceived as a maternity home for unwed mothers, the agency has evolved into a multi-service, multi-million dollar not-for-profit (501c3) child welfare organization. We serve a diverse population of children, adolescents, young adults and parents. Crittenton is a service provider for several code Departments of the State of Illinois including the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services and the Illinois State Board of Education.

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In late 1800’s, missions were established in larger cities… businesses by day, gospel house/soup kitchen by night. The Florence Crittenton Home in Peoria started much the same way.

Home of Blessing was built at a cost of $8,500 at the corner of Richmond and North Sts. The home opened on March 8th 1892 with the  mission “to care for many girls and women being ruined through the influence of evil companions in the 60 wine rooms and 300 saloons in Peoria.”

New York businessman Charles Crittenton convinced the community of Peoria of the need to maintain the Home of Blessings. He visited Peoria, spoke at a well attended meeting at First Congregation Church. The Home of Blessings board aligned with the Crittenton mission.

Early 1900’s, churches/organizations helped to furnish rooms. Many well known Peorians served on the board and helped with the fundraising.

The home struggled financially with the thought of closing. Major fundraising effort: to raise $2,000 in 1918 to keep the home open. The Home met and exceeded the goal.

Margaret Steinbach came on the board of directors. In 1929, she was named Executive Secretary, and later the Executive Director, serving until 1956 when she retired. Her roles included social worker, adoption placement worker, fundraiser and administrator. Her records and case work show much compassion and care she showed for mothers and children.

42nd National Florence Crittenton Conference held in Peoria. Talk of the conference-how the girls had “bad tonsils, bad teeth, flat feet or some abnormal trouble of some sort”. Compare that to our problems today!

Mrs. Ted Page, board president, announced committee for building a new home.

building started, cornerstone laid; cost of $100,000 to construct a new home in West Peoria on Heading Ave. The building included a hospital unit complete with a Labor and Delivery wing, recovery room and newborn nursery.

The home served young women at capacity or beyond. Almost all babies were placed for adoption.

The on-site hospital was closed; all deliveries were performed at Methodist Medical Center. District 150 ran a program for mothers at the Heading facility.

Crisis Nursery opens. First such program in Illinois to provide short term care for families in crisis to prevent child abuse and neglect. This model program took state grant funding and lots of community support to get established. Today, we are still considered a model program throughout the states.

Child care center opened at McKinley school and closed in early 2003 due to safety issues at the building.

Residential program for mothers closed due to lack of referrals and funding.

Official groundbreaking on the new facility, 442 John Gwynn Jr. Ave.

March 2004-“Time capsule” removed from old Heading building containing a copy of the bylaws, Bible, doorknob, and doorbell from the original site of the Crittenton Home, and a history of Crittenton written in 1933.

April 14, 2004-Staff began the move from the Heading building to the new facility.

April 2004-Child Development Center opens the only Second-Shift daycare in downtown Peoria.

July 2004-Ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate the new Crittenton Centers. Congressman Ray LaHood, Peoria Mayor Dave Ransburg, and Councilman Clyde Gulley were present.

Crisis Nursery celebrated its 25th year of operation.

Crittenton Centers is chosen to be the hub agency for the Strengthening Families through Early Care & Education’s Peoria pilot site and learning network.

Crittenton Centers’ fundraiser, The Stocking Stuffer Store, celebrates its 25th year of operation.

April 2009 – Crittenton Centers becomes reaccredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).  COA partners with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes.  Crittenton is one of three organizations in Peoria to be accredited.

December 2009 – Festival of Trees, Crittenton Centers’ newest fundraiser, opens at Expo Gardens.

April 2010 – The 2nd Annual “Pinwheels for Prevention” Pinwheel Garden kicks off Child Abuse Prevention Month.  After the planting of the garden by CDC children, staff, and Mayor Jim Ardis, Crittenton celebrates the Crisis Nursery’s 30th Anniversary with an open house.

August 2010 – Dr. Cindy Fischer joins Crittenton Centers as Executive Director.

November 2010 – An event honoring Don Ullman, Board Emeritus and long-time supporter of Crittenton, took place at the Bradley University Michel Student Center Ballroom.  Over 300 people attended and more than $135,000 was raised.

January 2013 – Crittenton Centers transfers post services and maintenance of all adoption records to FamilyCore.

June 2013 – To honor its retiring CEO, the Board established the ‘Dr. Cindy Fischer Kids First Award of Excellence’ to annually recognize exemplary service to the agency.

April 2017 – In memorial of James Bollwinkle, Christine Bonati Bollwinkle paid off the mortgage at our 125th Anniversary Gala. The 125th Anniversary Gala was a huge success because not only did we pay off the mortgage, but thanks to donors we were able to start a scholarship fund for the children in our community.

June 2017 – The Family Advocacy Center hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony opened its doors to expand on current programs to provide services by helping families involved with the child welfare program through the processes of reuniting their family.

March 2020 – Crisis Nursery reaches 40 years of services and saying “Yes, we can help!” over 100,000 times!

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