The 1890's: Finding a Home for Every Child
Our members were each part of the original Children's Home Society movement launched by the Reverend Martin Van Arsdale in Illinois in 1883. Our founder and his colleagues dedicated their lives to finding homes for orphaned and abandoned children and to helping their new families prosper. By 1897, the movement had created 23 branches of the national Children's Home Society in different states.
By 1916, membership in the national movement had grown to include 36 organizations in as many states. These sister organizations worked tirelessly to rescue abandoned children from the dismal surroundings of poorhouses and street life to offer them an alternative - loving homes. In an era when displaced children were delegated almost exclusively to overcrowded orphanages, the idea of fostering children in family homes was radical.
By the 1920s, Society members had placed nearly 153,800 children in loving adoptive homes. In many states throughout America, government systems focused on child well-being were initiated by Children's Home Societies. In fact, the national movement helped form the nation's first child welfare and child labor laws - a commitment to advocacy and public policy that continues today.
Today: A Continuing Commitment in a Complex World
From its inception nearly 125 years ago, Children's Home Society of America and its member organizations have been at the forefront of finding solutions to child welfare concerns. Our members were some of the first organizations in America to commit to serving children and families no matter their race, color, or creed. We were the first to employ trained social workers to oversee the care of children after a home placement, to offer counseling for birth parents, and to establish national standards of service and management, most notably for adoption and foster care services. As the complexity of problems facing today's families grows, we are there to help on every step of the journey.