A Rich History of Serving Children
Posted on September 29, 2023
The Children’s Home has been serving children for 115 years and has expanded far beyond the original location in Enterprise. It began in 1908 as the Florida Methodist Orphanage with the purchase of one building, eight town lots, and a forty acre tract on beautiful Lake Monroe. The need at the time was for a home to provide for orphaned children throughout Florida. During the Great Depression in the 1930’s, the Florida Methodist Orphanage housed as many as 150 children at a time. During this time, the Orphanage grew much of its own food, tended dairy cattle, and raised a variety of other animals. As many as 100 former residents from this period served in the military during World War II.
In 1939, the name was changed to the Florida Methodist Children’s Home. This was to reflect the reality than an increasing number of children coming into care were not simply orphans, but victims of abuse, abandonment, and family breakdown.
The philosophy of child care began to change noticeably during the 1940’s and 1950’s. It was becoming evident that the children in care needed more than just three meals a day, a safe place to sleep and basic care. The emotional and psychological needs of the children required a higher level of clinical care. In 1955, the first two cottages were built on the Enterprise campus. Prior to this time, boys and girls lived in dormitory style buildings. The move to a cottage based form of care provided a more family like atmosphere and allowed children to be grouped and better supported based on their needs. Each cottage is under the care and supervision of a dedicated set of house parents and a trained therapist.
In 1971, the Florida Methodist Children’s Home merged the Sarah Hunt Methodist Children’s Home in Daytona Beach, and was renamed the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home. This reflected the merging of the two organizations as well as the merging of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical-United Brethren Church to create the United Methodist Church.
The Children’s Home continued to expand during the 1970’s and 1980’s with the construction of a gymnasium and chapel, as well a day care center. In As Much, while started as a day care center, has grown into a Montessori early education program for children from birth through the sixth grade.
Our Madison Youth Ranch in north Florida opened in 2014. The Ranch enjoys a beautiful rural setting with two cottages, a chapel, pool and an administrative building. The most unique feature of the Ranch is the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) program. EAP involves the combined use of horses, a licensed therapist and a horse specialist working with the child to address various individual psychotherapy treatment goals. This unique method enables the child to learn about themselves and others by actually participating in activities with the horses, and then processing or discussing their feelings with the therapist. In that same year, the Heart & Home Resale Shop was opened in Orange City, near the Enterprise campus. This thrift store sells donated items, providing additional funds for the ministry.
By 2018, In As Much had outgrown it’s original building with a capacity of about 70 children. The Lamar Louise Curry Early Education Development Center was constructed on the Enterprise campus to house the growing Montessori program and now has a capacity of more than 200 children.
In addition to caring for youth on our two campuses, the Children’s Home has expanded to include Foster Care Services in multiple counties. Foster parents are trained and licensed by our staff, and then provided support and continued training to ensure a successful placement for the child. Our foster parents even work along-side adoptive families as the child transitions from foster care to their forever home.
Our range of services go beyond residential and foster care, and now include counseling. In 2019 the Children’s Home acquired Circle Of Friends Services, a nonprofit community health provider offering trauma-focused services to children and families in the home, at school, or clinic. The objective is to help children and families cope with traumatic issues that might otherwise lead to the need for residential or foster care, thereby keeping the family together. Circle Of Friends Services provide therapeutic counseling in several counties.
When you consider how much we’ve grown and our services expanded over the past 115 years, it becomes clear that we are far more than a Children’s Home.