History and Mission of The Children's Center
The Children's Center provides comprehensive mental health care to enhance the emotional well-being of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families.
Founded in 1962 by Agnes M. Plenk Ph.D., The Children's Center began as a preschool in a community church. Some of the children attending the preschool struggled with severe behavior problems. At times, Dr. Plenk (fondly known as Agi) had to explain to parents that their child was too disruptive and could not return.
The response of one mother changed Agi's approach to these children forever. "You are the one person in the community who can help," the mother said, "and you're turning us away."
Under Agi's inspiring leadership, The Children's Center committed to its mission, which is to provide comprehensive mental health care to enhance the emotional well-being of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families.
How We've Grown
Over the decades, The Children's Center has grown into a complex agency. We not only provide a number of treatment services, but we're also involved with research and teaching in a variety of fields and in partnership with local universities. To keep pace with burgeoning community needs, we now have two locations, one in Salt Lake City and the other in Kearns. Between the two sites, we see families and children from every zip code in Salt Lake County.
Each year more than 2,000 families come to The Children's Center seeking help with a variety of problems. We work with families who are experiencing a divorce or separation and need help learning how to manage two households. We work with the child who is being expelled from preschool because of severe bouts of aggression. We help the child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We help families learn to effectively manage their child's complex developmental needs.
Children Come First
It can be very stressful for parents or caregivers to realize their family needs help. Some parents and caregivers worry that their parenting skills are the source of their child's problem. Others worry that their child might receive a serious mental health diagnosis.
When families come to The Children's Center, they are met with a compassionate team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and counselors who have unparalleled training. Our team members understand the challenges of raising children with behavioral and emotional problems, and they have a history of proven success treating children from birth to age eight.
As a pioneer in the area of early childhood mental health, Agi taught us to always consider the child first and foremost in our work. This has remained a guiding principle throughout the transformation from The Children's Center's humble beginnings into a nationally recognized institution.