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Walter Lawson Children’s Home exists to provide assistance and service to persons with intellectual disabilities. Walter Lawson plays a significant role in the delivery of health care services and programs, maximizing quality of life and independence, supporting community integration, providing an opportunity for self-determination and advocating for individual rights. 

Quality and excellence are fundamental to our services and we adhere to the highest professional standards in all activities and programs. We strive to build and retain the trust of the people served by and employed by Walter Lawson Children’s Home.

Community Highlights:

Walter Lawson school certified by the Illinois State Board of Education

Licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health as a MCDD facility

Certified by Illinois Department of Human Services and the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission.

24-hour nursing

Letter From the Executive Director

Welcome to Walter Lawson Children’s Home,

At Walter Lawson Children’s Home, providing exceptional care is our passion and has been since 1971. Our professional, caring staff treat each resident individually and are dedicated to providing an environment that promotes health, independence and maximum quality of life.

I joined Walter Lawson in 1977 and have served as Executive Director since 2014. Over the years, I have been able to witness the loving care in which our staff interacts with our residents. At Walter Lawson, many of our caregivers have been members of our team for more than 10 years and provide a stable circle of support for our residents. We know it takes everyone working together to make certain that our residents receive the best care possible.

At Walter Lawson Children’s Home our mission is to provide assistance and service to persons with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. We know that our work is successful through the collective effort of our employees, community volunteers and supporters.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Walter Lawson and what we do!


Melissa Thornbloom

Executive Director


Sensory Programs

Individuals attending Walter Lawson’s education program can also utilize our sensory room. Designed to awaken and enliven the senses through sight, sound, smell, and touch, this sensory integration is central to cognitive development and relaxation. Components of our sensory room include the use of positioning wedges, vibrating pillows, aromatherapy, massage, fiber optics lights, and mirrors.

Fine Arts

Residents at Walter Lawson Children’s Home are provided with many opportunities to express themselves through art and exploration while expanding their senses and learning new concepts and skills.


Culinary experiences are offered at Walter Lawson’s, encouraging life skills as well as increasing sensory awareness. Baking, mixing pouring and stirring encourage tactile exploration. Culinary experiences also stimulate the sense of smell and for some, the sense of taste. A variety of kitchen objects are utilized to expand tactile experiences and small appliances are adapted for use with a switch.


There are many places to explore the outdoors at Walter Lawson Children’s Home. Participants can enjoy walks around the beautiful grounds or stop for a rest at one of our many pavilions. Whisper Glide swings are available for residents to take pleasure in relaxing with friends and family. Our playground is inviting for children and their family members.


Featuring a variety of adaptive musical equipment, music services are designed to allow participants the opportunity to create and explore the complexities of music, sound, rhythm, and movement. 


Thank you for considering Walter Lawson Children’s Home. Residents are referred by hospital discharge planners, physicians, community service boards and families of current residents. Families can also refer themselves for a loved one’s care.

Our Admissions Committee conducts a comprehensive evaluation of the applicant’s medical history, physical and psycho-social factors.

Considerations weighed by our Admissions Committee include:

  • Age*
  • Ambulatory Status
  • Level of Functioning
  • Medical Condition
  • Behavior
  • Discharge Potential

All applicants must meet the following requirements:

1. Be dependent in four or more of the following areas:
  • Motor Development
  • Dressing Skills
  • Grooming Skills
  • Toileting Skills
  • Eating Skills
  • Language Development
  • Productive Capacity
2. Be able to benefit from skilled nursing care and a rehabilitation program.

Require continuous skilled nursing care and medical supervision for complicated conditions, chronic long term or recurring medical conditions, such as:

  • Uncontrolled Seizure Activity
  • Gastronomy
  • Tracheotomy
  • Immune Compromised
  • Respiratory Issues
3. Complete authorized forms to obtain additional required information

If you are considering placing a loved one at Walter Lawson Children’s Home, we encourage you to begin the application process. Download the application form below.

*The facility is licensed as a MCDD facility; however, applicants/residents over age 22 will be considered if the Admission Committee determines that either initial or continued placement in the facility is appropriate because of the applicant/resident’s physical and mental functioning status, and that the facility has the service resource to meet the needs of the applicant/resident. The Admission Committee shall further determine that placement does not constitute a serious danger to the other residents.

Get Involved


Volunteers play an important role at Walter Lawson. We offer unique opportunities for services in a wide variety of areas. 

Volunteer Opportunities May Include:

  • Gardening (flower beds, weeding)
  • Taking residents on walks
  • Story telling
  • Ministry
  • Assisting with general maintenance and upkeep
  • Helping with the Art Program
  • Volunteering at Outings
  • Taking a pet to Pet Therapy for residents

Photo Gallery

Have questions or need more information?”