The 1928 historic building in Hot Springs that is home to Ouachita Children’s Center (OCC) is a continuation of a tradition that began in 1910 as the Interstate Orphan’s Home: the tradition of caring for youth. Convinced by Catherine “Mother” Birnbaum of the need for an orphan’s home, a bequest from Hot Springs business owner, Otto Neubert, provided the land. The original home burned down sometime between 1925 and 1926. So through the generous efforts of the Hot Springs Kiwanis Club and our community, our current building at 339 Charteroak Street, was built.
Eventually, the need for orphanages faded as the state shifted its efforts to place children in foster homes and juvenile training schools. So in the mid-1970s began a movement to move away from youth incarceration and toward community based resources, prevention, and early intervention to reduce reliance on lock-up facilities. In response, a group of community volunteers, including the Lion’s Club, recognized the need for an emergency shelter for youth in crisis. With the help of juvenile justice officials, OCC was founded in 1977.
Today, not only does OCYFS offer an emergency shelter and respite care, but we also offer outreach programs, case management, and support services in both Garland and Clark counties. Throughout our history – thanks to a caring community and dedicated staff – thousands of youth and families have received the resources they need to secure a more hopeful future.