In January of 1900, the Industrial Home Society was born through the vision and courage of the Reverend and Mrs. Uriah Gregory. The Home would later, in admiration and respect for the late President William McKinley, take his name.
Through those first years, Reverend and Mrs. Gregory cared for orphaned, homeless and abused children at their 33-acre ranch site in Artesia but, following World War I, the need to improve and enlarge the Home was overwhelming. Through the gifts and extraordinary efforts of Mr. Mericos Whittier and the Kiwanis Club of Los Angeles, a new 200-acre site in Van Nuys was acquired. The new home was completed in 1923 and the capacity rose from 100 to 250 boys.
The Home functioned for 38 years in Van Nuys, but following World War II, progress and community-housing demands almost swallowed McKinley. A newly built Ventura 101 freeway cut its way through the property, and less than 30 acres of the original 200 remained. Again, McKinley's Board of Directors was faced with finding a site for a new facility. Eventually, the current site in San Dimas was found and purchased, and plans for the rebuilding of McKinley Home were completed.
In 1961, ninety-six boys set foot on the McKinley campus of today for the very first time. During the next two decades, McKinley would continue to address the needs of the communities it serves by steadily increasing the level of its program intensity, which earned a psychiatric rating from the State of California in 1985. This new rating set into motion the significant expansion of Treatment programs and services for McKinley's boys.
Another milestone was reached in 1992 with the establishment of the agency's own non-public school on the grounds of the main campus in San Dimas. After 20 years as a public program operated by the Los Angeles County School System, McKinley's Canyon View School became a direct component of the agency's service spectrum. For the first time in our history, educational services joined therapeutic, recreational and residential services in a single, cohesive program of healing and growth for our children.
In 1994, McKinley's continuing program evolution made another leap into much needed new services. The Family Ties Foster Family Program was devised as an actual extension of the agency's successful campus-based residential treatment program. The Center’s expansion of services included girls as well as boys, and as a result, the agency modified its name in 1995 to McKinley Children's Center.
Nine years later, in 2004, McKinley's Outpatient Mental Health program was developed to offer mental health services to the community. Through a contract with the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health, McKinley began providing mental health services to minors who were Medi-Cal recipients and who met medical necessity to obtain treatment.
Today, as it was in 1900, McKinley's mission and deep commitment remains to improve the quality of life for our children. McKinley was founded and continues to operate as a true outreach to the community. With no fundamental attachment to any specific organization, but with widespread ties to hundreds of individuals, families and groups in dozens of neighborhoods, McKinley serves as a pivotal point where the care and concern of the community-at-large turns into direct action and aid for some of its most vulnerable children.
The Center has provided over a century of service to more than 60,000 boys and girls. We are proud of our programs and the results we have achieved, and we remain committed to assisting today's youth for the personal and professional challenges of tomorrow.