On January 5, 1973, OACCA became the first statewide child advocacy organization in Ohio. Founded by a group of child welfare leaders, its purpose was to twofold: first, to create an advocacy presence to communicate the needs of children and providers to the state government; and second, to improve the quality of treatment services for children.
OACCA’s first officers, President George Stevens, President-Elect Don Harris, Secretary John Caddey, and Treasurer Len Ziglar are credited as OACCA’s founders.
OACCA’s first office was donated by the UMCH Family Services campus in Worthington, Ohio, and clerical support was donated by Oesterlen Services for Youth. In 1976, OACCA hired its first Executive Director, Ms. Virgina Colson Leidheiser. Virginia had previously been chair of the Franklin County Children Services Board and led efforts to create the first stream of state funding for child welfare.
During the 1970s, OACCA is responsible for achieving many “firsts”.
- The first statewide newsletter of child welfare issues
- The first statewide conference for public children service agencies and private providers
- The first advocacy group to represent the needs of children and families to the Ohio General Assembly
- The first statewide organization to join the Child Welfare League of America and participate in national-level advocacy efforts
- The first major supporter for the establishment of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in Ohio
Further, OACCA’s collaboration with and training to public children service agencies led to formation of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio in 1980. Also, the Ohio Association of Child and Youth Care Professionals spun off of OACCA and became an independent entity of its own.
During the 1980s, the OACCA membership and staff grew. Agencies began providing care and support to children in home and community-based settings, including treatment foster homes. In 1985, Virigina Colson retired and Penny Wyman, a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives, succeeded her as Executive Director, a position she kept for twenty-six years. During the 1980s OACCA also moved into its own office on 400 East Town Street in downtown Columbus.
During the early 2000s, OACCA moved into the LeVeque Tower in downtown Columbus and further expanded its staff and member resources. In 2011, Associate Director Mark Mecum was named Executive Director. A few months later OACCA moved into its present location at 1151 Bethel Road in northern Columbus.
Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Children’s Center
Buckeye Boy’s Ranch
The Children’s Home Association of Butler County
The Children’s Home of Cincinnati
The Cleveland Christian Home
Flat Rock Children’s Home
Edgemeade of Ohio – Youth Rehabilitation Center
Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the Jewish Federation of Youngstown
Hannah Neil Center for Children
Lutheran Orphans’ and Old Folks’ Home Society
The Marsh Foundation School
Midwestern Children’s Home
Oesterlen Home for Children
Ohio Boys Town
Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home
Children’s Village of Parmadale
Saint Anthony Villa
St. Joseph Home for Children
St. Joseph Orphanage
Starr Commonwealth for Boys
United Methodist Children’s Home (Berea)
United Methodist Children’s Home (Worthington)
Wayne County Children’s Home