It is the birthright of every child to have a loving family and a secure home. Throughout history, our most helpless and precious resources have often been the victims of society’s crises. For more than 100 years, Children’s Home Society has remained true to its mission to promote the right of every child to a permanent, safe, and loving family. Although the family structure has changed remarkably during those years, and the challenges of finding devoted families for an increasing number of children with special needs are great, that resolve of Children’s Home Society has remained constant.
The First Century
When Children’s Home Society of North Carolina was founded in 1902, Greensboro was a small, agricultural community, isolated by dirt roads and poor communications. Like most of the South, it was still recovering from the disastrous effects of the war and reconstruction. In 1902, a group of visionary and compassionate businessmen, the Young Businessmen’s Club of Greensboro (today the Chamber of Commerce) was moved to address the issue of homeless children. Their mission was “to provide a home for the child who needs a home and a child for the home which needs a child.” The founders, whose names are still known today- Gold, Osborne, McIver, Duke, Lindley, Broughton, Hanes, Richardson, Douglas, Cone, Daniels, Battle, and others, provided the stability and integrity that has guided the Society for more than 100 years. Many members of these families are still involved today.
Most of the children placed with families in the early years of Children’s Home Society were older, between the ages of 4 and 12. Because the Society did not have a receiving home for children, they were often cared for in the homes of board members until a suitable family could be found. The pattern of placing older children continued through the 1920’s.
With the advent of safe baby formula and the post-World War II baby boom, CHS began placing more infants for adoption. From 1930 through the 1970’s the primary goal of CHS was to find homes for newborns with families whose backgrounds and physical characteristics matched their own. Adoption was a more secret process and information about the birth parents was forever sealed. During these years, Children’s Home Society began serving the entire state with offices emerging in the seven most populous areas of the state.
By the early 1980’s, the society was undergoing significant changes. In part because of an increase in drug use and, in part, because of extraordinary medical procedures that extended fragile lives, more children were born with medical and developmental difficulties. Single parenting also became more acceptable and fewer newborn babies were available for couples that wanted to adopt.
During this time, the child welfare system became more aware of the dramatic amount of time children in foster care were spending in institutional out-of-home placements. Greater emphasis emerged to develop programs of family foster care and to shorten the amount of time a child would have without a permanent home. Today, there continue to be fewer newborns available for adoption and growing numbers of older children needing families to attend to their special needs.
Into the Next Century
As more children entered the care of the public system through the Departments of Social Services, Children’s Home Society was requested to provide expertise in preparing families and placing children in permanent homes. CHS recognized that our mission was still pertinent, but needed to be focused on the changing population of children. These were children referred by DSS who had experienced abuse and neglect and for whom adoption was to be the permanent plan. Programs were developed to provide specialized training and support for potential adoptive parents.
The numbers support Children’s Home Society’s commitment to children. Over 16,000 children have been placed by CHS in permanent, safe, and loving homes. Today, Children’s Home Society provides one of the most comprehensive and seamless child welfare service arrays in the state to help children and families thrive.
Through Children’s Home Society, individuals and families can now access a wealth of services all from one agency:
- family preservation
- parenting education
- teen pregnancy prevention
- professional training
- family support services
- foster care