Students playing educational games with their teacher during the early days of CHS

Our Story

The Center for Human Services' story is one of hope, care, and service. In the last 67 years, Center for Human Services grew from a single room in rural Missouri to a state-wide leader in innovation, elevating those who face limitations in the form of physical, mental, and financial challenges.

Our History

From Humble Beginnings

Our story originated in the basement of the hospital in Sedalia, Missouri. In 1955, a single teacher began to instruct nine disadvantaged students. This teaching opposed the thinking of the times which stated that children with disabilities belonged in an institution or should be sent off to a larger school. The Crippled Children's Center, as it was known then, laid the foundation for what is now Center for Human Services.

This simple act of caring, kindness, and the realization that solutions could be provided locally, remains the core of who we are today. Our original mission of establishing programs and services that change the way a community views and defines people with disabilities is alive and well.

To Transition and Growth

In the 1950s, local citizens, mirroring national trends, saw the need to provide services closer to home for children with disabilities. There was no federal funding for such services, so the Crippled Children's Center was established through funds provided by United Cerebral Palsy, March of Dimes, Easter Seals, and private community donations. In 1963, the emphasis was placed on education and programming for children with disabilities, and our name was changed to the Children’s Therapy Center.

By the mid-1960s, some individuals in our services were finishing their formal education and were in need of employment. At the time, it was generally believed that individuals with disabilities were incapable of working. In 1966, CHS leaders, working with local businesses, chartered Missouri’s first sheltered workshop, where employees worked at their own pace and are paid according to their productivity. In 1972, a second facility was opened in Marshall, Missouri, to serve residents of Saline County.

Later, in response to emerging national trends favoring integrated community employment, sheltered workshops were transitioned into what is now known as Employment Services.  Since then, our Employment Services team has received the Best Practice Award for Employment from the Missouri Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) and the Cutting Edge Award from the Missouri Association for County Developmental Disabilities Services (MACDDS).

In 1979, we responded to the need for affordable and safe housing for adults with disabilities by introducing a community living program. The first living center, Tower Farm, was home to seven adults with disabilities. Now known as Residential Services, we offer a variety of residential options and support services located in Pettis and Saline counties.

In 1996, a pilot program called Service Coordination was launched in conjunction with the Department of Mental Health - Division of Developmental Disabilities. The program was established to provide case management to individuals with disabilities and their families. Now our largest service line, Service Coordination allows us to reach individuals across the state, from Kansas City to St. Louis.

By 2018, our services had extended well beyond the needs of children, and the decision was made to rename the organization to Center for Human Services (CHS).

At the beginning of 2022, CHS introduced a new service line, Clinical Behavioral Services (Applied Behavioral Analysis), a one-on-one therapy option for those with behavioral challenges, commonly used as a treatment for those with autism. Near the end of 2022, we announced a merger and partnership with Chariton Valley Association (CVA) in Kirksville, Missouri. Center for Human Services now serves as the parent company, supporting CVA's service operations to over 100 individuals in the form of residential and employment services.

Center for Human Services Today

Today, Center for Human Services consists of the following programs: Service Coordination, Residential Services, Employment Services, Community Support Services, Clinical Behavioral Services, Head Start and Early Head Start, Missouri First Steps, and Aquatics.

We have continued to assist, teach, and develop fellow Missourians to live a Life Beyond Limitations. We currently employ over 500 people who serve several thousand individuals across more than 47 counties in Missouri. While we may have grown in size and reach, we have never forgotten our humble beginnings. Center for Human Services will always rely on local, dedicated, and caring professionals who touch the lives of those in the communities we serve.