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Legacy of Caring for Area Children

cottageDedicated child welfare professionals have been caring for the needs of Montgomery County children on the same grounds for more than 85 years. The processes and regulations have been updated over the years, but the desire to positively impact young lives has remained constant.

The roots of child welfare in our county actually started in 1866, when the Ohio Legislature authorized County Commissions across the state to establish and maintain children’s homes. The following year, our County Commissioners established the Montgomery County Children’s Home on property they had purchased on Summit Street in west Dayton. Several thousand children were served there over the next 60 years.


Child welfare in Montgomery County took a major step forward when taxpayers approved a $400,000 bond issue in 1926 to erect a
“modern-type cottage plan institution.” Dr. C. E. Shawen gifted 20 acres of land on North Main Street in Dayton, and soon after Shawen Acres was under construction.

Completed in 1927, Shawen Acres’ old English architecture brought an undeniable charm to the orphanage’s 10 cottages and administration building. The campus also featured a gymnasium/auditorium, barber shop, pool and other amenities to help children through trying times. In 1969, Shawen Acres’ averaged 172 residents in its cottages.

There was a shift away from the orphanage model in the 1970s because the foster care model was producing better results for our children in care. In 1977, the Montgomery County Board of County Commissioners voted to suspend operations at Shawen Acres.

The current Children Services administration building, the Haines Children's Center, was named in April 2001 as a tribute to the late Montgomery County Sheriff Gary Haines who is remembered for his dedication to protecting our community and children. Sheriff Haines served as the county's top law enforcement officer for 12 years. He passed away at the age of 50 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

sign groupToday, the Haines Children’s Center at 3304 North Main Street in Dayton houses over 300 Children Services employees. Our workers investigate claims of abuse and neglect, facilitate foster home placements for children in care (around 700 at any given time), pursue the reunification of families, and recruit adoptive parents for children who need forever families.

The Haines Children's Center has 21 conference rooms, 16 visitation rooms, two medical examination rooms, an indoor playroom and a secured outdoor playground to better serve our children and families.