Child Guidance & Family Solutions is relocating in March to its new headquarters on North Forge Street in Akron’s University Park district.

The nonprofit agency’s new $5.25 million facility is located on the site of the former Fred Martin Chevrolet at the northwest corner of East Market and North Forge streets.

The counseling agency provides behavioral health services to thousands of area children and their families.

The move from its 42-year-old location on Locust Street gives the agency a more modern home with extra room while clearing the way for Akron Children’s Hospital’s own ongoing expansion project.

The agency’s existing space was built at a time when counseling was provided one-on-one instead of in a group setting or with entire families, said Elaine M. Harlin, Child Guidance president.

“Our old offices were designed for one-on-one,” Harlin said. “They weren’t accommodating to families. We need the group space.”

The agency is offering a sneak peak at its new headquarters to community and business leaders today during an invitation-only tour.

The two-story facility opens to patients at 3 p.m. March 18. The agency is permanently closing its Locust Street location on March 14 to begin moving to the new facility.

Akron Children’s Hospital purchased Child Guidance’s Locust Street property last year for $1.12 million, according to Summit County property records.

Children’s needed the property and others surrounding its downtown campus for a $200 million expansion. The Child Guidance building is scheduled for demolition in April, hospital spokeswoman Holly Pupino said.

The behavioral health agency is using the sales proceeds, donations and financing to fund the construction, according to Judy Fowler, vice president of institutional advancement. So far, about $2.7 million has been donated toward the project.

Child Guidance serves about 4,500 clients from throughout Summit County for a variety of behavioral health issues, ranging from emotional traumas and depression to attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia.

The new building — roughly 10,000 square feet larger than the current headquarters — features calming, muted earth tones selected by patient families and plenty of windows for natural light.

“In the old building, we had a ground floor with virtually no windows,” Harlin said. “The natural light really is helpful in a therapeutic environment.”

A playground is available for patients and families, as well as for therapists who want to talk with young patients in a more casual environment.

The new facility features rooms for play therapy, where victims of traumas can tell counselors about their experiences by using figurines in trays of sand. Observation rooms also are available for staff to watch families interact and then use headsets to provide advice to the parents.

About 115 of the agency’s staff will work in the new headquarters, with more employees expected to be added as programs expand, Harlin said.

Guild Guidance receives about $3.3 million of its $10.6 million annual revenues from a tax levy to support mental health services through County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. The agency also receives nearly $3 million from Medicaid and another $2.2 million from the state, according to its 2011 financial report, the most recent available.

The new Child Guidance headquarters is the first of two buildings planned for the former car dealership property, which was acquired in 2011 by University Park Alliance. The nonprofit group is working to redevelop the 50 city blocks.

Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or Follow Powell on Twitter at