History of Juniper Gardens Children’s Project

History of Juniper Gardens Children’s Project

The Juniper Gardens Children's Project was originally conceived in the mid 1960's during the Kennedy administration and continued during the Johnson administration's War on Poverty, and is still in operation today. Citizens of Northeast Kansas City, Kansas joined with faculty members from the University of Kansas' Departments of Special Education, Health Science, Human Development and Family Life, and the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies in order to address child development concerns within a low-income community.

Because of its mission and direct impact on academic and social outcomes of children in the local community and beyond, Mayor Mark Holland issued a proclamation in 2015 honoring Juniper Garden's 50+ years of service to the community.

Strengthening Families through Community Partnerships

Since 1964, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project (JGCP) has been at the forefront of research aimed at developing and researching solutions to improve children's developmental and educational experiences, and thus their academic and social achievements. The initial founders, and those who have followed, secured long-term federal funding for a number of research, training, and service grants, all based in the community and conducted in collaboration with community residents.

Since its beginning, JGCP has concentrated on problems identified by local citizens (parents, teachers, and community leaders). That JGCP has persisted successfully in the community is testament to the fact that it has produced outcomes meaningful to the community. Together, the community and JGCP have designed programs to intervene and improve the caregiving and special education received by children in this community. These efforts have been at the forefront and the crossroads of major developments in the conceptual frameworks, procedures, and practices used in the fields of applied behavior analysis and special education. Many of the early founders and participants at JGCP were pioneering (R. Vance Hall, Betty Hart, Todd Risley, Richard Whelan, Montrose Wolf) in that they demonstrated designs and practices that made measurable differences in the lives of children, particularly when parents and teachers implemented the interventions in the home, school, clinic, and other community settings. These demonstrations, once unique, today are commonplace, and they are reflected in many aspects of contemporary special education policies and practices including, for example: the Individual Education Plan and Individual Family Service Plans, functional assessment of challenging behavior, environmental assessment, peer-mediated instruction, behavior management, early intervention, inclusion, response to intervention, data-based decision making, transition, among others.

Today, the Juniper Gardens Children's Project is a part of the KU Life Span Institute. We continue to serve the community through a rich portfolio of new research and development projects, where ‘community engagement’ remains a common component driving each project’s success.

Children's Campus of Kansas City

In 2010, Juniper Gardens relocated to the top floor of the Children’s Campus of Kansas City building (CCKC), where our research has continued and has spawned several areas of new research. Our mission remains intact as we promote children’s social competence and academic achievement by improving the quality of their care and educational experiences through evidence-based practices. As one of the three tenant agencies in the CCKC building, we have formed new collaborative partnerships with community agencies, organizations, schools, and individuals to help identify problems and generate solutions. Along with the Family Conservancy and Project EAGLE, we have collaborated to make the CCKC a one-stop, full-service entity for young children and their families in the urban Kansas City area. JGCP’s current and ongoing research includes our Kansas Center for Autism (K-CART), interventions to improve school readiness, using Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs) measures for the very young, using mobile devices to enhance parenting intervention for at risk families, using class-wide function-based interventions to improve academic outcomes, and parent-mediated strategies to promote infant-toddler language growth, just to name a few.