Children's Aid Society
|Formation||1853 (162 years old)|
|Founder||Charles Loring Brace|
|Founded at||New York, New York, U.S.|
| $140.2 million (2014)
$137.3 million (2013)
|Expenses|| $124 million (2014)
$121.7 million (2013)
- See also Children's Aid Society (Canada).
Children’s Aid Society (CAS) is a private, child welfare organization based in New York City, established in 1853 as the Orphan Train originator. CAS is one of the oldest and largest child welfare agencies in the United States, with an annual budget of over $100 million, 45 sites, and over 1,200 full-time employees. It serves tens of thousands of New York City children per year by providing comprehensive services of adoption and foster care, after-school and weekend programs, arts, camps, early childhood education, events, family support, medical, mental health, and dental, juvenile justice, legal advocacy, special initiatives, sports and recreation, and youth development programs.
In 1853, Children's Aid Society was founded by philanthropist Charles Loring Brace in order to ensure the physical and emotional well being of children and families, and to provide each child with the support and opportunities needed to become a happy, healthy and productive adult. Brace, a minister by training, was appalled by the thousands of abandoned, abused and orphaned children living in the slums and on the streets of New York at that time. The only option available to such street children at that time was commitment to jails, almshouses and orphanages.
Brace believed that institutional care stunted and destroyed children; in his view, only work, education and a strong family life could help them develop into self-reliant citizens. Brace knew that American pioneers could use help settling the American West, so he arranged to send the orphaned children to pioneer families who needed them. This became known as "The Orphan Train Movement."
The children, who were encouraged to break completely with the past, would typically arrive in a town where community leaders had assembled interested townspeople. The townspeople would then inspect the children and choose the ones they wanted.
The program was controversial; some abolitionists viewed it as a form of slavery, while some pro-slavery advocates saw it part of the abolitionist movement, since the labor provided by the children made slaves unnecessary. Some Catholics viewed the program as anti-Catholic, as a significant percentage of poor children in Manhattan were Irish Catholic, and once transported into the interior of the country they would be raised outside their faith. In response, the Archdiocese of New York upgraded their own child-welfare programs, improving the parochial school system, building more Catholic orphanages, and creating a 114-acre (46-hectare) training center on farmland in the Bronx, which they called the Catholic Protectory.
Between 1854 and 1929, more than 200,000 children rode the "Orphan Train" to new lives. The Orphan Train Heritage Society maintains an archive of riders' stories. The National Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, Kansas maintains records and also houses a research facility.
In 2012, The Children's Aid Society was rated 4/4 stars by charities rating organization Charity Navigator for a record breaking 12th consecutive year. In 2009, it was honored with a Village Award from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation for its Philip Coltoff Center in Greenwich Village (since razed for new residential development).
Other child welfare innovations
Since originating the Orphan Train, CAS has founded a series of child welfare innovations that have since become commonplace, such as:
- some of the first industrial schools
- the first parent-teacher associations
- the first free school lunch programs
- the first free dental clinics for children
- the first day schools for handicapped children
- the first kindergarten in the United States
- the first foster homes
- the first “fresh air” vacations, in which urban children visit host families in the country for the summer.
In the 1980s CAS created the first family court diversion programs, where social workers meet with out-of-control children and their families in an attempt to find out of court solutions.
In 1992, CAS created the first "community school", a partnership with the New York City Department of Education where a full array of health, mental and after-school, weekend and summer programs are available to students at school. The Technical Assistance Center has helped visitors from all over the United States and more than 40 foreign countries learn how to apply "community school" concepts in their schools.
In 2014, the Children's Aid Society's board of trustees appointed Phoebe C. Boyer as its eleventh President and CEO. She is the first female to lead the society, since Charles Loring Brace founded Children's Aid.
In popular culture
- Kate Manning's My Notorious Life (2014) predominantly features early 1800's orphans as main characters, who get selected on the street amongst children who must prostitute themselves for food, by Charles Loring Brace for the Orphan Train, and eventually become Lake Shore Drive (Chicago) and Fifth Avenue residents.
- "Children's Aid Society 2014 Annual Report" (PDF). Children's Aid Society. October 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2015. Pg. 23
- "Children's Aid Society - What We Do". Children's Aid Society. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
- Eckstein, Katherine. Testimony of Katherine Eckstein, Director of Public Policy, The Children’s Aid Society Prepared for the NY Education Reform Commission Public Hearing, New York City, October 16, 2012
- The Children's Aid Society
- Burrows, Edwin G. & Wallace, Mike (1999). Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195116348. p.783-784
- Orphan Train Heritage Society
- National Orphan Train Museum
- "Children's Aid Recognized for Its Century of Service to the Greenwich Village Community". The Children's Aid Society. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
- "Children's Aid Society hires first female CEO", Crains New York (July 15, 2014)
- "17 Books to Pick Up This Fall". Oprah. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
- "Difficult Women". New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
- "Book World: ‘My Notorious Life,’ by Kate Manning". Washington Post. September 17, 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2015.