Sioux FallsRapid City

Past and Present

HISTORY OF CHILDREN'S CAREChildren posing in front of the Crippled Children's Hospital & School sign in 1952.

Children's Care Hospital & School opened in March of 1952 as "Crippled Children's Hospital & School." But the true history of Children's Care Hospital & School began almost two decades earlier with a small classroom at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls. It was the first classroom for children with disabilities in South Dakota.

The number of children with polio at both Sioux Valley and McKennan Hospitals grew, especially with the polio epidemic of 1948, which prompted a committee to be formed to raise $500,000 for a new facility which would offer both health care and education services to children.

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Guy Van Demark, Irene Fisher Coon, R.N., and the many thousands of others who gave of their time and financial resources, "Crippled Children's Hospital & School" became a reality. We served 32 children in residence when we opened, primarily disabled with polio and cerebral palsy.

Dr. E.B. Morrison became our first executive director in 1951, and he continued as director until 1984. During his tenure, Dr. Morrison raised countless dollars to support Children's Care Hospital & School programs and pioneered many new services.

Over the years, there have been many significant changes.

Three new wings have been added to the facility (in 1958, 1980 and 2000), and outreach services were established in 1970 so that Children's Care Hospital & School could serve children and families in their home communities all across the South Dakota region. Our philosophy, too, has changed over the years to become more "family-centered" in nature.

Today, we serve over 2,628 children with special health care and education needs and their families each year.


  • 1952 - Through the generosity of South Dakota citizens, "Crippled Children's Hospital & School" opened its doors to serve 32 students in residence.
  • 1958 - A dormitory and therapy wing were constructed, which included a gymnasium and an indoor swimming pool.
  • 1970 - The "Traveling Rehabilitation Unit" was established, and in 1974 renamed EPIC (Evaluation and Planning for Infants and Children). EPIC provided outpatient and outreach services for children all over eastern South Dakota.
  • 1980 - To meet the growing needs of the organization, a 96-bed dormitory addition was built and the administration, education, and therapy areas were remodeled.
  • 1985 - Children's Care assumed the operation of Midwest Children's Center (MCC) from what is now known as Rapid City Regional Hospital in Rapid City to extend outreach services to the western part of the state.
  • 1992/1993 - MCC in Rapid City and EPIC in Sioux Falls were renamed "Crippled Children's Hospital & School Outreach" to better identify them as important parts of Children's Care.
  • 1994 - "Crippled Children's Hospital & School" changed its name to "Children's Care Hospital & School." The new name avoids labeling children and eliminated an outdated term. Our outreach centers in Sioux Falls and Rapid City became "Children's Care Hospital & School Outreach."
  • 1999 - The Children's Care Rehabilitation Center and Rehabilitation Medical Supply company opened, offering specialized and adaptive equipment and full service outpatient centers in Sioux Falls.
  • 2000 - A new 18 bed Rehabilitation and Medically Complex Unit opened. 


For a PDF version of this map, click this Children Served 2009-2010 link. Click the map below to view a larger image.

Children Served Map 

"Helping at Children's Care has taught me to look at the bright side of things just like the kids do!"
– Kaitlyn B., Volunteer
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