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Posted  September 18, 2002 

National Center for Kids Overcoming Crisis
Carolyn Lake Maunz, Client Services

KidsPeace was founded 120 years ago in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania by William Thurston, the president of Bethlehem Iron Works, after a virulent smallpox epidemic in the Lehigh Valley left hundreds of children without parents. Originally called the Thurston Home for Children, then later, the Annie Wiley Children’s Home, it continued to expand its services, eventually taking on its current name. It now offers 35 distinct services at over 50 centers nationwide, having served more than 100,000 children. Their “comprehensive, integrated continuum of children’s mental and behavioral health care” includes the KidsPeace Hospital, various residential, community and juvenile justice programs, as well as Foster Care and Family Services (FCFS). Their programs exist in a variety of states including: Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

KidsPeace’s outreach and public-education programs include the websites:, which offers information from childcare experts, national research, articles and other resources, and, which allows teens to share their problems and crises in a safe, supportive, problem-solving environment. They provide a free public National Referral Network, 800-KID-SAVE, that helps link kids in crisis with professional help in their own communities, using a database of more than 20,000 providers across the country. They also operate a free helpline, staffed by professionals who can offer advice on issues ranging from effective parenting to suicide prevention, at 800-334-3KID.

They also operate various residential campuses. Orchard Hills, in Pennsylvania, is a “beautiful 300-acre residential campus that provides both intensive and regular residential programming with licensed schools, along with some of the best recreational opportunities in the area.” The Broadway campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania provides a “therapeutic residential treatment program for the youngest children, as well as a transitional program that teaches life and social skills to older teens preparing for independent living.” The Graham Lake Campus, in Ellsworth, Maine, provides therapeutic residential treatment, a 45-day diagnostic assessment, and special education instruction. Their Mesabi Academy, in Buhl, Minnesota, utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach including education, counseling, corrections professionals, skill development and behavior management, with a juvenile justice focus. KidsPeace has a Dual Diagnostic Program in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania which combines individual and group therapy, education, medical evaluation, treatment and therapeutic recreation on a “lovely, rural campus that provides an ideal setting for children to deal with both their mental-health and substance- abuse crises. It also provides aftercare planning and vocational help, and “stands out in the industry because of a focus on individual responsibility and relationship building.”

The KidsPeace Lee Salk center for Research “draws on their 120 years of clinical expertise and brings together great minds in the childcare area to research and develop solutions to challenges facing today’s children.”