Since its modest beginning in 1962, operating in a house at 821 Church Street in Millville, NJ, donated by the Second Methodist Church, the Cumberland County Guidance Center has grown to a staff of more than 175 professionals, providing mental health care and support services to more than 5000 area residents annually. Administered by a volunteer Board of Trustees comprised of leading Cumberland County citizens, the Center occupies 26 acres in a tranquil wooded setting at 2038 Carmel Road in Millville. The history of the Cumberland County Guidance Center is one of providing a strong response to a great need. Soon after opening the Center, the waiting list of individuals who needed and wanted services began to grow longer and longer. The late Dr. William D. Fenton, who at the time was the Cumberland County Superintendent of Schools, was the first president of the Guidance Center. He lead the organization through several years of expansion of the Center’s activities and facilities. In the spring of 1965, the Center applied for a grant under the Community Mental Health Act. This grant enabled the Center to construct new buildings, expand services for both inpatient and out-patient treatment, and provide funding for staff and salaries.
Throughout its history, the Guidance Center has excelled in designing and implementing programs to enhance mental health services in Cumberland County. In the mid-1970s the Center established satellite offices which played an important role in reaching out to the community. During this period of growth, the Center secured grants for specialized programs for both Children’s Services and Consultation/Education. Programs were developed for emergency “Crisis” services and Case Management services. Working through some difficult times in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Cumberland County Guidance Center was able to secure federal grants to continue its nationally recognized quality programs. In 1982, the Center received the newly instituted Block Grant Funds from the Division of Mental Health and Hospitals.
Growth and Stability
Cumberland County Guidance Center has grown over the years, expanding and developing to meet the community’s needs.
In the 1970s and 1980s the Guidance Center added programs such as Adult Clinical Case Management, Liaison Case Management, Homeless Case Management, and a Youth Shelter (which closed in 1993).
In the 1990s the Guidance Center continued to grow. Improvements were made to buildings to accommodate an increase of programs and services to more people. The Center expanded its Adult Partial Day Program as well adding on to the complex in the back which now houses the Administrative function of the Guidance Center. Two community residences were added, a Supported Employment Service, a PACT Team, Intensive Family Support Services, Integrated Case Management Services, and a Supportive Housing Program.
In recent years, The Guidance Center has modified its programs to focus on a new models including Wellness and Recovery which is delivered through existing programs and the Housing First model and more recent models design to provide optimal care for the individual and families served. Along with this came the addition of the Jail Case Management component to help released individuals “re-integrate” into the local community, and during this period constructed two new community residences. Additionally, the Center worked with local law enforcement officials and created a Community Response Center to help people in crisis.
Programs and services now reach beyond the boundaries of Cumberland County into parts of Salem and Gloucester Counties. For this reason, and to clarify that the organization is not a county government agency but a private, non-profit community health provider, the Cumberland County Guidance Center is now known simply as The Guidance Center.
The Guidance Center has grown from its modest beginnings of providing counseling services from a house in 1962 with a budget of $38,949, to a service with multiple office locations serving more than 5,000 people per year with a budget of over $12,000,000.