Our founder, Janice Joseph Watson, fondly known as “Jay” or “J.J.,” opened Jack and Jill Nursery and Day Care in 1968 after retiring as an elementary school teacher at Target Range School in Missoula.

Police and child protection social workers had few alternatives when they needed a place for children who were abandoned, abused, neglected or whose parents were incarcerated. They would search for relatives, open hospital beds, empty jail cells or sometimes bring a child to their own home. With nowhere to turn, police and social workers would contact Janice, who compassionately and selflessly welcomed the children into her home. In 1977, Watson Children’s Shelter was officially opened, at that time known as Watson’s Receiving Home.

Janice passed away in December of 1993. What a gift to carry on her legacy of care and protection of children.

Today, Watson Children’s Shelter continues to follow Jan’s compassionate spirit, providing shelter and care to over 100 children annually from Missoula and the entire Western Montana region.