Black and white photo of former Children's Home residents.


For more than a century, we’ve provided
critical care to children and families in Central Illinois.

And we look forward to continuing our work into the next century.

For more than 155 years, Children’s Home Association has been raising up our community one at-risk youth at a time.

In 1866, a group of civic-minded women in Peoria, IL responded to the needs of the poor by forming the Christian Home Mission.

The History of Children’s Home

This organization not only brought relief to families in need by way of donating groceries, coal, clothing, and medicine, they sought to solve the larger systemic problem of poverty among women and children in our community. The Christian Home Mission founded and established the Industrial School, an educational organization aimed at teaching girls sewing and mending skills as a means of income.

As needs of the community grew, so too did the Christian Home Mission. With homelessness and poverty on the rise, the Christian Home Mission transformed into the Home for the Friendless in 1875 by way of a State of Illinois charter. The Home for the Friendless originally housed eight homeless women and their children. Over the years, services continued to grow as the needs of the community continued to rise. In 1921, the shelter housed eighty plus women and their children and had since expanded its footprint to the neighboring building.

Over the years, the organization expanded in various ways. In 1967, a merger resulted in what is now known as Kiefer School, one of two fully functioning schools under the Children’s Home Association of Illinois (CHAIL) umbrella. During the 1980s, community-based programs began to help prevent the unnecessary removal of children from their homes and two Supervised Independent Living facilities opened serving older teens transitioning to independent adult living. In the 1990s, CHAIL gained an increased focus on preventing criminal activity to avert youth from entering the juvenile Department of Corrections. In 2007, CHAIL acquired Youth Farm Inc., a residential facility that now houses up to 50 children with severe behavioral and emotional disorders.

Currently operating from over 10 locations in the Peoria area and servicing children from throughout the state of Illinois, CHAIL’s 400+ employees provide support services to all at-risk youth. Services offered begin in utero with pregnancy support resources to at-risk mothers and extend to the age of 24 years old. The agency responds to all needs of youth in our community ranging from homelessness, behavioral health services, residential care, and placement services.