Ouachita Children’s Center (OCC) was founded in November 1977 by a group of Hot Springs residents and officials in the juvenile justice system. The facility is located in an older residential neighborhood in Hot Springs. The building, listed on the National Historic Registry, built-in 1928, was initially known as the Interstate Children’s Orphanage and later the Hot Spring Children’s Home. In 2003 the building and land were deeded to Ouachita Children’s Center by the Hot Springs Children’s Home Board upon dissolving their corporation. The building was dedicated as the Joe Poe Building in 2004, in honor of a member of the Home Board.
The early years of OCC were characterized by a more “law enforcement” attitude in which the shelter served primarily as a detention facility. Beginning in 1981, the shelter began providing long-term residential services that were discontinued in 1985. A philosophical change led to a shift from a punitive facility to one of prevention and intervention for youth receiving services at the Center.
Today, OCC residential service components consist of emergency shelter and respite care. Non-residential service components include: targeted case management, intensive case management, intensive casework management for serious offenders, and a variety of educational groups that are available to both youth and families in the Garland & Clark County communities.