Our history

Rosecrance Memorial Home for Children

Rosecrance Memorial Home for Children

The Rosecrance story shows how a responsible organization evolves through the decades to meet a community’s changing needs. Founded as an orphanage for a handful of boys in 1916, Rosecrance has become a comprehensive behavioral health network serving more than 32,000 families each year.

That transformation accelerated in November 2010 with the affiliation between Rosecrance and Janet Wattles Center, the region’s largest provider of community mental health services. The two organizations formally merged on Sept. 1, 2011, to create the state’s most comprehensive network of behavioral health services.

Addiction treatment services primarily are provided at two large inpatient facilities in Rockford: Harrison Campus for adults and Griffin Williamson Campus for adolescents. Rosecrance also has five offices in the Chicago area.

Mental health services, all outpatient, primarily are provided at the Ware Center in downtown Rockford, which serves the adult population, and at the Berry Campus, which serves children and families.

The common theme of operations at Rosecrance and Janet Wattles before the merger was their mutual commitment to providing quality evidence-based treatment to the people they served. Their joint mission now is to provide help, hope and recovery to children, youth, adults and families.

Children the focus of Rosecrance early years
The history of Rosecrance traces to Dr. James and Fannie Rosecrance, who left provisions in their wills to establish an orphanage for boys. Upon Fannie Rosecrance’s death in 1916, the couple’s homestead in New Milford became the Rosecrance Memorial Home for Children. The orphanage remained at that site for 55 years, when the Rosecrance Board of Directors purchased farm land on Alpine Road in Rockford and built a new campus there.

Rosecrance on Alpine

Rosecrance on Alpine

As the foster care system evolved in the late 1960s and 1970s, Rosecrance began to serve children with behavior disorders. In 1982, Rosecrance formally changed its mission to offer adolescent addiction treatment. The Rosecrance Center, which was initially licensed for 20 inpatient beds, was the first chemical dependency treatment center for adolescents in Northern Illinois.

In August 2004, Rosecrance opened a new $14 million, 78-bed campus to serve youth on University Drive in Rockford. The Griffin Williamson Adolescent Treatment Center is the largest inpatient treatment program in the state. Rosecrance also serves youth through prevention and outpatient services and through recovery homes for teens. The organization’s long-term teen recovery homes, a program started in 1997, are among only a handful of such facilities in the nation. Boys are served at Hillman House. The girls recovery home, Marlowe House, is the only licensed program of its kind for girls in the state of Illinois.

Adult services added in 1992
Rosecrance began offering treatment for adults in 1992, when the organization acquired the Evergreen Recovery Center in downtown Rockford. The program had 32 inpatient beds. To better serve the treatment needs of the adult population, Rosecrance closed Evergreen and opened a new 72-bed treatment center on Harrison Avenue in Rockford in November 1995. The campus has twice been expanded and renovated, and it now has an inpatient capacity of 98.

Rosecrance also operates Greendale House, a transitional housing program for single men and women and women with young children.

Rosecrance continues to enhance services for children, adolescents, adults and families. We are the leading provider of alcohol and drug addiction treatment in Northern Illinois and are nationally recognized in the field.

Ware Center and Berry Campus
The Winnebago County Mental Hygiene Society was founded in 1947, and many of the agency’s first consumers were veterans returning from World War II.

The clientele expanded dramatically when, during the 1960s, many thousands of individuals with serious mental illness were released from institutions and returned to their home communities. Stepping up to meet their treatment needs, the local agency began its long history of outpatient services to the individuals with chronic mental illness. Through the years, the agency became known for serving indigent and low-income residents with chronic conditions who could not find treatment elsewhere.

One of the center’s most dedicated supporters was a local real estate agent and civic volunteer named Janet Wattles. So committed was she to the Center’s work that the board decided to name the agency in her honor. And so, from 1972 until September 2011, the agency was known as the Janet Wattles Center. The current name of the downtown adult services building, the Ware Center, honors the longtime president/CEO Frank Holmes Ware, who died Feb. 13, 2011, shortly after the collaboration with Rosecrance was announced.

From services to adults with chronic mental illness, the Center expanded programming in the 1980s to serve youth with severe emotional disturbances. As demand for youth services grew, it became apparent that the Center needed space beyond what was available at the downtown center on West State Street. In 2007, the Center opened the Mildred Berry Center on the city’s far east side. It was named for a renowned speech pathologist and children’s advocate. Now called Berry Campus, the building offers programming for children with emotional disorders and their families. The Berry Campus also contains a Family Resource Center, which offers a variety of services and educational resources to help families.

Other endeavors
The Ware Center and Berry Campus created several other programs that serve a niche in the community.

The Silver Lining Clubhouse is a psychosocial program that provides extensive rehabilitation and recovery services for adults. It operated from a separate building on 22nd Street for a dozen years before being relocated to the Ware Center in 2011.

The Stars of Light Theatre Troupe, which is made up of patients, staff and volunteers, presents programs to area schools, churches and social clubs to educate about mental illness and reduce stigma. The group has won several state and local awards. In 2011, the group received the Volunteer Group of the Year Award from the United Way of Rock River Valley.

The Ware Center also offers vocational rehabilitation programs and Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILA). Under the direction of the late Frank Ware, the agency developed a number of 24-hour supervised and supported housing units in the community. In 2010, the Center received a federal grant to provide transitional housing for homeless veterans with serious mental illness.

Through its addiction and mental health services, Rosecrance has collaborated with the 17th Judicial Circuit on numerous grants and programs to serve individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system. Rosecrance has been an active player both in the formation and ongoing operation of the “mental health court” and the “drug court.”

The agencies merged in 2011, in part, to provide improved services for a growing number of individuals who have co-occurring disorders and need both mental health and addiction treatment.

All Rosecrance programs are fully accredited by The Joint Commission and licensed by the Illinois Department of Human Services.