Since 1916, Webster-Cantrell Hall has served primarily Macon County children, youth, and families in troubled circumstances. Over the years, the agency has touched tens of thousands of lives and helped many children overcome difficult problems. From its humble beginnings as an orphanage to the accredited child welfare agency it is today, Webster-Cantrell Hall has a history rich in loving and caring for the underprivileged.
In the early 1900’s there was a tremendous need in the community to provide a place for children to live who had lost their parents or whose parents could not care for them. In 1916 The Home opened, later becoming known as the Girl’s Welfare Home and finally Webster Hall. A few years later, the Decatur-Macon County Opportunity Home for Boys was formed, later to be known as Cantrell Hall. The original farmhouse was replaced in 1927 with what is now used as the current administration building.
As demands for orphanages dwindled and the needs of the children changed, Webster Hall and Cantrell Hall pooled resources and merged in 1974, creating Webster-Cantrell Hall. After the merger, the children being housed were identified as dependent and neglected children. These children came from abusive homes, having emotional and behavioral problems. Their placement at the agency was in lieu of placing them in the former Juvenile Detention Center. Also at that time, the Agency began to add programs to address community needs. In 1979, the Foster Care Program was instituted. In 1985, the Staley Group Home was constructed and in 1992 the Main Campus underwent an extensive expansion and renovation to better accommodate residential and community programs needs.
Webster-Cantrell Hall sought to enhance the professional level of services, becoming certified to provide Medicaid Services in 1993 and becoming a Council on Accreditation certified Agency in 1994. In 2007, Webster-Cantrell Hall added an Emergency Shelter Program in response to a request from DCFS. In April of 2011, Webster-Cantrell Hall opened the Webster Girls’ Group Home. A primary focus is permanency for children and youth in their living arrangements once they leave WCH care. These options range from returning to their home of origin to independence. Webster-Cantrell Hall continues to implement additional programming to provide a continuum of services for children at birth until they reach adulthood and meet changing community needs.