On January 5, 1973, Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies (OACCA) became the first statewide child advocacy organization in Ohio.  Founded by a group of child welfare leaders, its purpose was to twofold: first, to create an advocacy presence to communicate the needs of children and providers to the state government; and second, to improve the quality of treatment services for children.

Its first officers, President George Stevens, President-Elect Don Harris, Secretary John Caddey, and Treasurer Len Ziglar are credited as its founders.

George Stevens, Founder of OACCA

George Stevens

John Caddey

Don Harris

Don Harris

OACCA’s first office was donated by the UMCH Family Services campus in Worthington, Ohio, and clerical support was donated by Oesterlen Services for Youth.  In 1976, OACCA hired its first Executive Director, the late Ms. Virgina Colson Leidheiser.  Virginia had previously been chair of the Franklin County Children Services Board and led efforts to create the first source of state funding for child welfare.

virginia colson

Virigina Colson, OACCA’s First Executive Director

During the 1970s, OACCA is responsible for achieving many “firsts”.

  • The first statewide newsletter of child welfare issues
  • The first statewide conference for public children service agencies and private providers
  • The first advocacy group to represent the needs of children and families to the Ohio General Assembly
  • The first statewide organization to join the Child Welfare League of America and participate in national-level advocacy efforts
  • The first major supporter for the establishment of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in Ohio
Site of OACCA's First Office: UMCH Family Services, Worthington, OH

Site of OACCA’s First Office: UMCH Family Services, Worthington, OH

Further collaboration with and training to public children service agencies led to formation of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio in 1980.  Also, the Ohio Association of Child and Youth Care Professionals spun off of OACCA and became an independent entity of its own.

During the 1980s, Association membership and staff grew.  Agencies began providing care and support to children in home and community-based settings, including treatment foster homes.  In 1985, Virigina Colson retired and Penny Wyman, a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives, succeeded her as Executive Director, a position she kept for twenty-six years.  During the 1980s, OACCA also moved into its own office on 400 East Town Street in downtown Columbus.

During the early 2000s, OACCA moved into the LeVeque Tower in downtown Columbus and further expanded its staff and member resources. In 2005, the Association became a pioneer in developing one of the first software systems in the country for child welfare and behavioral health outcome management. The project, the OACCA Outcomes Data Project (ODP), was an innovative solution to support agencies’ abilities to measure their program performance and provide an objective basis for clinical and financial decision making. Since its official launch in 2007, 22 member agencies participated in the project. Data findings from the project have been featured in several professional journal articles and Ph.D. dissertations.  The project ended in 2016.

In 2011, Associate Director Mark Mecum was named CEO, and moved OACCA into a location on Bethel Road in northern Columbus for five years, and later to their present location at Corporate Exchange, also in northern Columbus.  In 2017, the Association founded a spin-off provider network, the Child and Family Health Collaborative of Ohio, that provides an opportunity for health plans and other payors to partner with participating community providers to improve health and social outcomes, achieve savings, foster health integration, and establish administrative efficiencies.

Founding Members

Adriel School
Beech Acres
Beech Brook
Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Children’s Center
Buckeye Boy’s Ranch
The Children’s Home Association of Butler County
The Children’s Home of Cincinnati
The Cleveland Christian Home
Flat Rock Children’s Home
Edgemeade of Ohio – Youth Rehabilitation Center
Glenview-Hillcrest Schools
Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the Jewish Federation of Youngstown
Hannah Neil Center for Children
Lutheran Orphans’ and Old Folks’ Home Society
The Marsh Foundation School
Marycrest School
Midwestern Children’s Home
Oesterlen Home for Children
Ohio Boys Town
Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home
Children’s Village of Parmadale
Rosemont School
Saint Anthony Villa
St. Joseph Home for Children
St. Joseph Orphanage
Starr Commonwealth for Boys
United Methodist Children’s Home (Berea)
United Methodist Children’s Home (Worthington)
Wayne County Children’s Home