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ChildSavers celebrates 90 years of helping children

02/20/2014 6:15 AM by

by Melissa Ansley Brooks

This year marks ChildSavers‘ 90th year of providing comprehensive mental health services for children. Over the years our programs have expanded from a small guidance clinic to include Trauma Response, as well as, Child Development Services programming that provides education, mentorship and support for area childcare providers.

In 1924, Martha Branch, a concerned citizen and head of the McGuire Newton Foundation, was the driving force behind the founding of a child guidance clinic in Richmond. So innovative was this child guidance clinic that it was the first of its kind in the south.

This effort embraced a national movement of recognizing and treating children’s mental health issues, and was also a memorial to the esteemed Dr. Newton, a longtime medical educator and pediatrician affectionately known as the city’s most renowned “baby doctor”. Originally named Children’s Memorial Clinic and then Memorial Child Guidance Clinic, in 2004 we became known as ChildSavers.

From the very beginning, ChildSavers’ approach to children’s mental health was groundbreaking. In 1926, we partnered with the Junior League of Richmond to provide woodworking and art classes to help children learn useful skills and develop an appreciation for craft and beauty. In hindsight, this may have been one of the very first play therapy programs. Today, our clinicians still operate under the now widely accepted principle that art and play therapy are integral to healing children, as they provide a non-verbal channel for expressing emotions.

Nine decades later, we take pride in being the oldest provider of mental health services for children in the metro Richmond area. During the last twenty years, we’ve added training child care providers to our list of child development services. Over the last ten years we’ve increased partnerships with schools, community centers, and emergency shelters. We maintain strong relationships with area health clinics and government agencies that also share our passion to serve children and those who care for and educate them.

With a committed and generous donor base, an army of dedicated volunteers and the continuing partnerships of local organizations (both public and private), we are confident in our ability to continue to improve the quality and accessibility of childcare and to raise awareness and understanding of children’s mental health in the Richmond community. We couldn’t do this kind of life changing work without your support. Your contributions have and will continue to write our history.

To learn more about ChildSavers and how you can get involved, please email Melissa Ansley Brooks at mbrooks@childsavers.org or call (804) 591-3907.

Historical facts are excerpts taken from: Ripples of Compassion, The story of eighty years of history of the Memorial Child Guidance Clinic, by Phillip L. Whitaker.

Photo top left: Davis House, S.E. corner of 10th and Clay Streets; William Palmer Gray Collection, Valentine Richmond History Center.


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