Originally opened as the Home of Blessing in 1892, Crittenton Centers in Peoria, Illinois was started by a group of women who saw a great need among the young girls and women in their community. They carried their work out for ten years despite facing a great deal of opposition but were ready to give up on the home when Charles Crittenton convinced the community of its importance. In 1902, the Home of Blessing became an official Florence Crittenton Home and immediately admitted two girls into its residence.

Since its time as the Home of Blessing, Crittenton Centers has been protecting and nurturing children and families in Peoria. Crittenton Centers provide a wide array of services including a Crisis Nursery, Child Development Center, and Educational and Support Services–all with the goal of educating and strengthening children and families to build safe, vibrant communities where children thrive and families succeed.

The Crisis Nursery provides child abuse prevention services for children from birth to six years of age through emergency intervention and respite care, crisis counseling, and support services to families facing stress related to domestic violence, parenting challenges, mental health issues, and other situations that put children at risk. This free service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and children can stay up to 72 hours depending on the situation. The program also offers parent education classes and encourages parental participation.

Crittenton Centers’ Child Development Center offers quality child care and early education services in a family-focused environment. The center serves children aged six weeks to six years old and accepts subsidy payments through the Department of Human Services’ Child Care Connection Program. The full-service day care center offers a nurturing environment where kids can learn and grow while getting an education head start. Additional service enhancements include ongoing developmental assessments and screenings, individualized lesson plans, the High Reach Early learning Curriculum, a parent advisory board, a lending library, parent corner, community garden and walking trail.

Additionally, Crittenton Centers provides a range of vital education and support programs for parents to help them improve their quality of life, strengthen their families, and prevent child abuse and neglect. The core programs included are Milestones, Stepping Stones, and Parent Education. All families receiving services at Crittenton Centers are encouraged to participate in Family Service Programs. The Milestones Program includes frequent home visits with a “Parents as Teachers” family educator, parent/child activities including development of early literacy skills, ongoing developmental screenings, group outings, and monthly parent nights and parent workshops. The Stepping Stones Program serves pregnant and/or parenting teens that are legal wards of the state and is designed to reduce the risk of placement disruptions by providing crisis intervention services to the teen.

For the last three years, Jeff Gress has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Crittenton Centers in Peoria, Illinois–bringing with him a demonstrated history of working in the individual and family services industry. Prior to his role at Crittenton, Mr. Gress served as the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the South Side Office of Concern and as the Director of Youth Services at the Children’s Home Association of Illinois.