1891: George Walker, cofounder of the Walker-Gordon Laboratory in Boston, helps to establish the first medical milk commission, establishing new milk certification standards for safety and purity. The Walker-Gordon Dairy opens on seven and a half acres along the Charles River in Needham, Massachusetts, where its reputation for pure and healthy pasteurized milk attracts many families seeking to improve the health of chronically sick children.
1927: At Walker’s death, a trust is established allowing his farm, The Needham Dairy, to be converted into a convalescent home for children upon the death of his wife, Irene.
1939: The New York World’s Fair features the rotolactor—a Walker-Gordon invention that rotates 50 cows in a streamlined milking operation. Following the fair, it was returned to Needham.
1952: The Walker-Gordon dairy in Needham closes after the death of Irene Walker (her husband George Walker died in 1927.) A trust is established “for the care of children” and the property is converted into the state’s first convalescent home for children with polio, rheumatic fever, and other long-term illnesses. The Children’s Mission to Children (later known as Parents’ and Children’s Services of Boston) manages the home until the late 1950s, when the development of antibiotics and vaccinations eliminated much of the need for children’s long-term hospitalization.
1961: Under the direction of Children’s Hospital psychologist Dr. Albert E. Trieschman, The Walker Home opens for the treatment of emotionally and behaviorally disturbed boys. The original farmhouse and dairy farm buildings are converted for use as classrooms and residences for a half-dozen students.
1969: Dr. Trieschman publishes The Other 23 Hours (with co-authors James Whittaker and Larry Brendtro) introducing a new residential care philosophy that outlined the need for treatment beyond the one-hour therapy session. The emphasis is on “teaching competence” and stresses the transformative power of the therapeutic milieu in the lives of troubled children. The Other 23 Hours remains a classic text for child care professionals working in residential treatment settings and has been translated into five languages. Dr. Trieschman served as Walker’s director until his death in 1984.
1971: School construction allows on-campus treatment to expand to 52 boys and families. Off-campus group homes open, providing care for children within the community.
1981: Walker renovation allows for clinical and administrative offices. Walker clinicians develop “peer-pair” psychotherapy, a new treatment relevant to children in group care.
1984: Richard W. Small becomes Executive Director of Walker. Over two and a half decades, his leadership transforms Walker from a small residential school for boys into a wide network of facilities and professionals dedicated to providing world-class mental health services, state-of-the-art special education, expert training and professional development, and child welfare advocacy.
1986: The Albert E. Trieschman Center for Child Care & Development is established to encourage innovation in the treatment and care of troubled children through training, professional development, and research. Its Director, Floyd J. Alwon, Ed.D, organizes its inaugural conference, attended by practicioners from around the world.
1993: "Finding Better Ways", an Albert E. Trieschman Center for Child Care & Development conference draws eight hundred direct-care providers. The Trieschman Center serves as the National Resource for Foster Care.
1994: Walker launches Community and School Based Programs, now known as Walker Partnerships, with the objective of extending the reach of Walker’s expertise to help troubled students within public schools, and other community settings.
1995: Walker merges with Beacon High School in Brookline, Massachusetts, a co-educational, therapeutic alternative high school program for students aged 14 to 22. Beacon High School opened in 1971 as New Prospectives School. In addition, Walker opens a new Acute Residential Treatment program, now known as Community-Based Acute Treatment (CBAT) for the crisis stabilization and support of children as young as three years old.
1998: The Albert E. Trieschman Center for Child Care & Development becomes a division of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the nation's oldest and largest organization devoted entirely to the well-being of America's vulnerable children and their families.
2001: Walker receives accreditation from the Council on Accreditation (COA).
2003: Completion of a major capital campaign results in the opening of several new buildings, including two new residences, doubles the physical size of the original Needham campus and the Respite Program launches.
2006: Beacon High School opens the school year after relocating to a beautifully renovated facility on the new Walker Watertown campus. Walker creates Family and Community Integration Services to provide home-based therapeutic care, community-based support for children and families, after-school and summer programs.
2010: Walker begins a yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, commemorating five decades of teaching, caring, and building hope.
2011: Dr. Richard W. Small announces his retirement as CEO.
2012: Susan M. Getman, MSW, becomes Walker's third Chief Executive Officer.