- In 1939, a curative workshop was established in the Windsor Red Cross Building for children and adults with physical disabilities. This workshop began a movement in Windsor-Essex to create a positive educational facility for children, offering both physical and occupational therapy.
- In 1949, a group of local parents appeared before the Windsor Public School Board to request education for the children attending the Windsor Red Cross. It is from this initial request and continued focus in the years following, that the idea for the John McGivney Children's Centre was born.
- Following the request by local parents, the Red Cross School was established to not only provide therapy, but also education classes. The school continued to expand, offering more resources for children and families, while also continuing to provide workshops for young adults.
- It became evident during the mid-1960s that the Red Cross School needed more space, accessible by all students. In 1965, plans for a new facility with a focus on children began, with local Rotarian John McGivney chairing the Planning Committee.
- In March 1978, the new Children's Rehabilitation Centre of Essex County opened, with tremendous support from local businesses, community groups and the province of Ontario. This new children's treatment centre and school welcomed children from across the country, providing innovative therapy treatments and a positive inclusive environment for the children.
- In the decades that followed, resources in therapy and equipment changed and developed, offering more support for children and families, and the number of children and youth receiving services from the Centre grew.
- By the 1990s, it was evident again that a larger facility was needed and advocacy with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for the necessary funding began.
- In 2004, the newly developed Ministry of Children and Youth Services, announced the Ministry's portion of capital funding required for the renovation and expansion of the Centre. Fundraising initiatives, to raise the local community's portion of the capital funds, soon followed.
- In 2006, the Centre officially changed its name to the John McGivney Children's Centre, honouring McGivney's lifetime commitment to the children's treatment centre, its families and children.
- The renovation of the existing building along with an expansion was completed in 2010, following a successful capital campaign, which again included immense support from the local community. This project tripled the square-footage of the facility, resulting in a more child and family-friendly environment with the required space to deliver programs and services.
Throughout its history, the John McGivney Children's Centre and its predecessor organizations have maintained a strong commitment to children with special needs and their families, fulfilling the Centre's mission of helping them reach their full potential.