In 1958, a mother wanted more for her 7-year-old daughter with a developmental disability. She dared to dream of the opportunity for education and an enriching life for her child. Alongside her, a small group of parents bonded together to create the first day school program in McHenry County for children with developmental disabilities. That act of determination led to the creation of the organization that would become Pioneer Center for Human Services.
Over the years, Pioneer Center underwent a metamorphosis. It became one of the first non-profit agencies in the United States to initiate a merger with another non-profit agency in order to preserve services for the good of the community.
In 2006, it merged with McHenry County PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) to ensure homeless services continued for McHenry County residents in need. In addition, Pioneer Center became the county’s designated ICASA rape crisis service provider through the launch of VOICE Sexual Assault Services.
In 2010, it merged with the McHenry County Youth Service Bureau and Children’s Center for Autism. These additions grew staffing to over 300 individuals and provided services to more than 3,000 community members in 2011. In addition to providing direct services and care, Pioneer Center provides community educational outreach to over 10,000 individuals and children in McHenry County.
In December 2013, Pioneer Center announced the launch of its new service delivery model—the Guthrie Legacy Project of Community Inclusion in partnership with Temple University, opened a new group home for adults with Autism and began the transition to an electronic health record. In addition, we purchased a new building, named Pioneer Center for Community Mental Health, located on Veterans Parkway in McHenry that is home to many of our adult, child and adolescent behavioral health programs.
In 2014, rape crisis services were transferred to Northwest CASA ensuring these vital services remained available. In addition, Pioneer Center launched an Autism day program, hired its first ever medical director and introduced telepsychiatry to the county.