Founded in 1973, Ohio Children’s Alliance is Ohio’s first statewide child advocacy organization.
Formerly known as the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies, the Ohio Children’s Alliance is Ohio’s premiere membership organization for community agencies who serve vulnerable children and families.
While priorities change overtime, the needs of children do not. Our children deserve a system that provides for their needs and optimal growth. We have a vision for the best system for better results. Through its mission, the Ohio Children’s Alliance, Inc. applies the collective strength of its members to sustainably improve the provision of services to children, young adults, and families through policy advocacy, performance improvement, and member support.
A trade and advocacy association, Ohio Children’s Alliance provides its 80+ members with policy and regulatory advocacy as well as performance improvement and member support including trainings, educational opportunities, and technical assistance.
Through these services, Ohio Children’s Alliance applies the collective strength of its members to sustainably improve the provision of services to children, young adults, and families here in Ohio. For over 40 years, Ohio Children’s Alliance has worked to ensure that Ohio’s evolving public policies result in a system that is integrated, efficient, and beneficial to those that matter most – children and families.
Our alliance had 31 founding members.
On January 5, 1973, Ohio Children’s Alliance, “The Alliance” (then: Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies) 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.
The Alliance’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, Ohio Children’s Alliance hired its first Executive Director, the late Ms. Virginia 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.
During the 1970s, Ohio Children’s Alliance was responsible for achieving many “firsts”:
First statewide newsletter of child welfare issues
First statewide conference for public children service agencies and private providers
First advocacy group to represent the needs of children and families to the Ohio General Assembly
First statewide organization to join the Child Welfare League of America and participate in national-level advocacy efforts
First major supporter for the establishment of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in Ohio
Further collaboration and training efforts with public children service agencies led to formation of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio in 1980. The Ohio Association of Child and Youth Care Professionals also formed out of Ohio Children’s Alliance and became an independent entity of its own during this time.
In 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, Virginia 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, the Alliance also moved into its own office on 400 East Town Street in downtown Columbus.
During the early 2000s, Ohio Children’s Alliance 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 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 Ohio Children’s Alliance 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 provider network, the Child and Family Health Collaborative of Ohio, which 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.
*Beech Acres Parenting Center
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
Lutheran Orphans’ and Old Folks’ Home Society
*The Marsh Foundation School
Midwestern Children’s Home
*Oesterlen Home for Children
Ohio Boys Town
Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home
Children’s Village of Parmadale
Saint Anthony Villa
*St. Joseph Home for Children