Our history began when the Hillbrow School was founded in 1896 in Newton, Massachusetts, and retained that name until the early 1920s when the eminent child psychiatrist Franklin Haskins Perkins, M.D. became the school’s administrator in 1922. Dr. Perkins moved the school from Newton to a spacious campus in Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1924.

Prior to coming to the school, Dr. Perkins had been employed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Assistant Commissioner for Mental Diseases. He attended the White House Conference on Children and Families in 1930 at the invitation of President Herbert Hoover and was renowned in the field of mental disorders and disabilities in children.

HistoryIn 1987 the Executive Director, Charles P. Conroy, Ed.D. arrived and served in that role for 28 years. Prior to coming to Perkins, he served as the Director of Operations at the Lexington Center for the Deaf in New York City.

The administrative team that managed the growing agency included Douglas J. Reid, CFO, and Laura Beckman, former Chief Operating Officer. Major changes were undertaken in the late 1980s, the most significant of which was a change in focus from service to children with developmental disabilities to children and adolescents with emotional and mental health needs. The agency moved forward with the diversification of services, expansion of programs, and development of the campus.

Today, under the leadership of Michael W. Ames, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Perkins provides residential and day treatment and community-based services to children and families from all over Massachusetts and neighboring states in the Doctor Franklin Perkins School. It is recognized in child welfare circles as innovative, entrepreneurial, and child and family-focused. The agency also operates: an Adult Services Program; Davis Manor, an assisted living residence; Rein in a Dream, a therapeutic horsemanship program, and Perkins Behavioral Health, a mental health group practice.

As of September 2020, Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps (RFK Children’s Action Corps) is an affiliate of Doctor Franklin Perkins School (Perkins), with a full merger planned for the near future. Michael W. Ames, President and CEO, leads both organizations. Together, we serve nearly 2,000 vulnerable children, youth, and adults annually through day, residential, and community-based programs and reach and impact thousands more children and youth nationwide through juvenile justice training and technical assistance.