Lighthouse Youth & Family Services is a fulfillment of the dream of a group of African-American women with the Baptist Women’s Fellowship in Cincinnati and others who sought a better future for young people and families. The agency was founded in 1969. Lighthouse opened the first group home for girls in the state of Ohio in 1971.
Lighthouse is a leader and pioneer in developing services, some of which are national models of innovation and efficacy.
- 1969: Lighthouse incorporated as New Life for Girls.
- 1971: Lighthouse opens Schott Group Home, a halfway house for girls, at 727 Lincoln Park Drive in Cincinnati.
- 1971: President Richard Nixon invites Ruth Voss, a founding board member, to the White House. Voss was the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Teenager editor and mother of eight. The President was looking for ideas on how to get youth involved in the country’s affairs. Their discussion led to the President giving Voss $50,000 for operating funds for the group home.
- 1974: Lighthouse opened the Lighthouse Runaway Shelter, Cincinnati’s first and only runaway shelter. Later known as the Youth Crisis Center, it’s now known as Mecum House.
- 1978: The Youth Development Center opened. Originally a group home for boys and girls, the Youth Development Center now provides long-term care for boys.
- 1979: Lighthouse began offering Foster Care services.
- 1980: Lighthouse started Youth Housing Opportunities. This service offers young adults the tools needed to move toward self-sufficiency while living independently. Each youth receives a furnished apartment and life skills training.
- 1986: Lighthouse opened Ohio’s first private corrections facility for youth. Lighthouse Youth Center at Paint Creek is a national model for juvenile correctional treatment reform.
- 1987: Lighthouse renamed the Schott Group Home as New Beginnings.
- 1996: Lighthouse opened its second day treatment program. Located in Dayton, Ohio, this program serves Montgomery County youth released from the Lighthouse Youth Center at Paint Creek as well as youth referred from other youth service organizations.
- 2000: The Lighthouse Community School opened. The charter school, sponsored by Cincinnati Public Schools, serves children in Lighthouse residential services and other children in the child welfare system in Hamilton County.
- 2002: Lighthouse began providing early intervention services for infants and toddlers 0-3.
- 2003: Lighthouse began the Youth Outreach program to meet homeless youth in the community. It included street outreach workers and a daytime drop-in center called Anthony House.
- 2005: The Lighthouse Individualized Docket Team was formed to work collaboratively with the Hamilton County Juvenile Court to help youth with histories of serious mental health and/or substance abuse who were facing delinquency charges.
- 2006: The Lighthouse Reentry program began serving youth returning to the community from juvenile corrections facilities.
- 2012: The Lighthouse Sheakley Center for Youth opened.
- 2013: Lighthouse announces an initiative to end youth homelessness in Cincinnati by 2020.
- 2014: Lighthouse began offering foster-to-adopt services.
- 2015: Lighthouse Foster Care & Adoption became the first program in Ohio to be designated a “Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBT Families and Youth” by the Human Rights Campaign’s All Children-All Families project.
- 2015: Lighthouse expands its community juvenile justice services to include youth engaged in the juvenile justice systems in Hamilton, Montgomery, and Ross counties.
- 2015: Lighthouse buys property in Walnut Hills (2314 Iowa Avenue) to build “A Place to Call Home,” a multipurpose facility designed to provide a seamless system of care for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. The facility’s design includes permanent supportive housing and a shelter.
- 2016: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal(HUD) awarded $3.8 million to Strategies to End Homelessness in partnership with Lighthouse to foster innovation toward ending youth homelessness in Cincinnati/Hamilton County. HUD awarded the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program grant to only 10 communities.
- 2016: Construction begins on the new Lighthouse Sheakley Center for Youth at 2314 Iowa Avenue in Walnut Hills.
- 2018: Lighthouse Sheakley Center for Youth opens. The building houses 36 individual shelter bedrooms for youth ages 18-24, 39 apartments, and a day resource center.
- 2018: The Youth Crisis Center is renamed Mecum House and moves from Clifton to 2522 Highland Avenue in Corryville, the former site of the Lighthouse Sheakley Center for Youth.
- 2018: Lighthouse is among the first organizations in Greater Cincinnati to earn a Queen City Certified Leader in Gender Equity designation.
- 2018: Lighthouse opens the Integrated Access Center in Walnut Hills.
- 2018: The Youth Development Center moves from Avondale to 3330 Jefferson Avenue in Clifton, the former site of the Youth Crisis Center.