The Niles history of helping children and teens in the Kansas City area is long. Niles has been a safe haven for children since 1883 when Samuel Eason, an African-American bricklayer, began caring for homeless and orphaned children he found in his neighborhood near the historic 18th and Vine area.
In 1896, the organization was incorporated under the name of the “Colored People’s Charity Association.” After Mr. Eason’s passing in the early 1900s, Dr. Katherine B. Richardson, founder of Children’s Mercy Hospital, and other civic-minded citizens launched a campaign to build a new home to serve the needs of homeless children. In 1924, local philanthropists Frank and Emma Niles donated land and constructed a mansion to house up to 100 children on the same site as the current facility on East 23rd Street.
In the 1960s, the agency evolved from a custodial home to a residential treatment center to serve children with emotional challenges. Also during that time, the agency made a decision to open its services to children of all races. Through its Residential Treatment Program, Niles now serves as a state-appointed foster parent for up to 35 children at a time. These children have suffered trauma caused by abuse, neglect and abandonment.
In 1987, Niles Prep Behavioral Management and Day Treatment was created to serve Niles residents and area students from surrounding school districts needing academic, emotional and behavioral intervention.
In 2017, Niles began a partnership with KVC Health Systems. The partnership is strengthening behavioral healthcare best practices, high-quality support staff, and cutting-edge training to Niles and expanding KVC Health Systems’ broad continuum of care with a unique short-term treatment facility for youth. Read more about the partnership here.