Our Home’s History
A Legacy of Healing & Hope1847
On June 21, 1847, a group of women from Poughkeepsie churches met to form the Female Guardian Society to help the poor and neglected in the village. “Two by two they went into the highways and byways, the garrets and cellars; feeding the hungry, clothing the destitute and providing employment and protection for the friendless and exposed.”On June 21, 1847, a group of women from Poughkeepsie churches met to form the Female Guardian Society to help the poor and neglected in the village. “Two by two they went into the highways and byways, the garrets and cellars; feeding the hungry, clothing the destitute and providing employment and protection for the friendless […]
Home for the Friendless1850
Having decided that “the only true way to arrest the evils of poverty and crime would be to save the children,” the women changed the name of their organization to the Poughkeepsie Guardian Society for the Poughkeepsie Orphan Home and Home for the Friendless. On April 15, 1852 a state charter was obtained and the society became incorporated. Although having no cash or endowment, the women committed to establishing “a temporary home for respectable females without employment or friends; also destitute and friendless children of both sexes, until they can be committed to the guardianship of foster parent, or worthy families, who will train them to respectability or usefulness.”
A portion of local school taxes was to go to the Home, showing that the local government was supporting this area of social reform. In the spirit of the reform movement of the time, the goal of the Home was “to prevent vice and moral degradation, maintain houses of industry, and home for the relief of the friendless, destitute or unprotected females and for friendless or unprotected children.” The only other such institution in the country at that time had been established in New York City a mere three years earlier. Most homeless children were thus sent to almshouses.
In the 19th century, the educational approach of the Home was strictly institutionalist. The children had to wear uniforms and attend school in the building. The building and grounds were fenced in and the gate remained locked from the inside at all times. The only time the children could leave school was to go to church. Individuals who agreed to adopt a child from the Home would receive a child for a “three month trial,” after which “they could “either return him/her to the home, or have him/her indentured to me.” This was consistent with the times, when children were seen primarily as economic assets who could work and supplement a family’s income.
By November 1854, the Board of Managers had raised $4,500.
In May 1855, the Board purchased a lot at the corner of South Hamilton Street and Franklin Street in the City of Poughkeepsie, NY for $2,490. On November 15, 1855 the cornerstone was laid, with the mayor of the newly incorporated City of Poughkeepsie in attendance. When the cellar was completed, funding was exhausted. The Board asked people to “buy a brick” for $1, but once the brick walls were up and the roof was on, money ran out again.
The Poughkeepsie Orphan House and Home for the Friendless was dedicated on February 23 1857. The building had no water except from rain, no blinds, no means of meeting expenses, and a mortgage of $2,000. In June, the ladies held a strawberry festival to finance the blinds, with entertainment provided by the children. Then Matthew Vassar gave $1,000, the first contribution to a permanent endowment. During the first year, 30 children were cared for, 40 the second, and 55 the third.
On June 17, 1859, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel F. B. Morse donated $500, which was used for “a well, to finish the bathing-rooms and plumbing, and to carry water through the building.” The Home received many other donations on a smaller scale, and in many instances the donors wanted to remain anonymous.Having decided that “the only true way to arrest the evils of poverty and crime would be to save the children,” the women changed the name of their organization to the Poughkeepsie Guardian Society for the Poughkeepsie Orphan Home and Home for the Friendless. On April 15, 1852 a state charter was obtained and the […]
Community Friends Make all the Difference1860
There were 9 women and 64 children from age 2 to 12 at the Home in 1861. Of the children, 32 were county charges, 26 were kept without compensation, and 6 were boarders. Children from 3 families were boarding while their fathers were in the Civil War. At least in one case, the Home took in a boy orphaned by his father’s death in the war.
The Home used 8 barrels of flour per month and 30 quarts of milk per day. Like today, friends of the Home sent useful donations including: clothing, fruit and vegetables, chicken and apples for Thanksgiving, a 300-pound deer from the NYS Game Commission, ice cream, two ice-cream freezers, a gas stove, toys, a rocking horse, kites, $25 for Victrola records, books, a magazine subscription, handkerchiefs, Christmas wreaths, and tickets to shows.
Illness was a constant problem. Two children died during the Home’s first epidemic of scarlet fever in March 1861. In 1862, the Board no longer accepted homeless women, concentrating its efforts solely on children. By 1868, the Home stopped taking children as paying borders.
A resolution was passed in 1869 stating “that $100 and a suit of clothes for a boy of 21, and $50 and suit of clothes or an equivalent for a girl at 18 on arriving at age, be specified in the indenturing papers.” Most children would eventually become domestics or be indentured to a farm.
Children were educated at the Home but attended local churches. They did “as much housework as was consistent with their ages and school duties.” The matron received an annual salary of $300, and the average cost of keeping a child was $1.69 per week.There were 9 women and 64 children from age 2 to 12 at the Home in 1861. Of the children, 32 were county charges, 26 were kept without compensation, and 6 were boarders. Children from 3 families were boarding while their fathers were in the Civil War. At least in one case, the Home took […]
Changes at the Home1870
An 1876 law stated that judges could no longer commit any child over age 3 or under age 16 to a county poorhouse. That same year city water was supplied to the Home. By 1877, the county paid board of $2.26 a week per child. Volunteers taught basketwork, shoe mending, and sewing. The children held fairs to raise money. Gas lighting was installed in 1879, easing fears about the use of many oil lamps. In 1879, it was decided that the Home could no longer keep boys over 12, “the narrow confines not being sufficient for their youthful energies and restless nature.”An 1876 law stated that judges could no longer commit any child over age 3 or under age 16 to a county poorhouse. That same year city water was supplied to the Home. By 1877, the county paid board of $2.26 a week per child. Volunteers taught basketwork, shoe mending, and sewing. The children held […]
A perforated pipe was installed in one of the bathrooms, enabling a number of children to wash their hands simultaneously. On a donated 36-acre farm and despite a drought year, the children grew and gathered 1,000 ears of corn, 685 cucumbers, 10 bushels of tomatoes, plus beets and turnips, enough for the winter. Contributions from friends enabled the Home to erect a monument at its cemetery plot for children who died of such diseases as measles, whooping cough, and diphtheria. Decade specific entertainment included stereopticon views of different countries and temperance lectures.
The frequency of temperance lectures reflected the fact that the children in the Home were brought up in the ethos of Protestant middle class respectability, so much so that a mother who gave up her children to the Home demanded that they not be adopted by a Catholic family. In a time far less inclusive than today’s, such demands often reflected prejudices of the time, as Poughkeepsie received an influx of Italian and Irish Catholic immigrants.
During summers, the children camped out. By the Home’s 25th anniversary in 1882, 1,008 children had been served.A perforated pipe was installed in one of the bathrooms, enabling a number of children to wash their hands simultaneously. On a donated 36-acre farm and despite a drought year, the children grew and gathered 1,000 ears of corn, 685 cucumbers, 10 bushels of tomatoes, plus beets and turnips, enough for the winter. Contributions from […]
Community Outings & Celebrations1890
In 1893, a four-story addition was constructed on the northwest corner of the building. The cost, including plumbing and heating, was $6,000. Children were vaccinated. Entertainment included picnics, a visit to Grant’s Tomb in New York City, rides to Wappingers Falls on electric trolley cars, loaned horse drawn stage coach excursions to the Dutchess County Fair, Labor Day ferry rides back and forth across the Hudson River, and sleigh rides to Hyde Park. Firecrackers were donated for the Fourth of July.
The by-laws at that time stated, “It must be borne in mind that these children will probably find places as domestics in families; and while self-respect must be cultivated, habits of subordination must be carefully instilled.” Instructions to the teacher included: “Recitations to be varied with singing, walking, and exercises calculated to develop the muscles.” Miss I. B. Conklin became the second matron in 1895, serving until 1918.In 1893, a four-story addition was constructed on the northwest corner of the building. The cost, including plumbing and heating, was $6,000. Children were vaccinated. Entertainment included picnics, a visit to Grant’s Tomb in New York City, rides to Wappingers Falls on electric trolley cars, loaned horse drawn stage coach excursions to the Dutchess County […]
Facing Sickness & Debt1900
Health continued to be a problem in confined quarters. Scarlet fever hit in 1900 and diphtheria in 1902 and 1911. The number of orphans was declining. A 1905 report states that fewer children were actually surrendered to the Home and most were there for temporary care. By 1912, Dutchess County had an agent for dependent children who aided in placing children when they left the Home.
In debt $1,200, the Board issued a fundraising appeal and raised $1,050 in 1911. New desks, a blackboard, roller maps, and books were obtained for the schoolroom, but by 1913 the city board of education supplied school materials. In 1915, the Home hired a night relief person for the matron, who had apparently been on duty 24 hours a day.
The Home began a policy of camping out in tents for the whole summer in 1912, first at a berry farm near Freedom Plains, and later along the Wappingers Creek in Rochdale, where most children learned to swim. Neighbors entertained them with auto rides and ice-cream parties.
In 1919, the name was changed to The Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie. At this time, the Board formed a committee to arrange for a new building “in the country.”Health continued to be a problem in confined quarters. Scarlet fever hit in 1900 and diphtheria in 1902 and 1911. The number of orphans was declining. A 1905 report states that fewer children were actually surrendered to the Home and most were there for temporary care. By 1912, Dutchess County had an agent for dependent […]
Same Home, New Building1920
At this time the staff of the Home steered away from an “institutionalist” approach to care, and moved towards “the cultivation of homely joys and wholesome virtues characterized by home-life.” As a routine, all children woke up at 6:30 am, made their beds, ate breakfast, and then had to perform household duties. For example, one seven year old girl would go every day into the office of the Superintendent to dust off chairs. These duties were necessary to keep the Home livable and clean, it was also necessary in making the child feel that they had a useful place in the Home.
Meanwhile the campaign for a new building swung into full gear. Between May 8 and 18, 1920, the Board of Managers conducted a campaign to raise $150,000 for construction of a new Home. Liberty Bonds were accepted, and donors were reminded that charitable gifts were tax deductible up to 15% of one’s annual income. Donation amounts ranged from $5 to $5,000. There were speeches and marches to bring attention to the necessity of a new Home for the children, as the old one was beyond repair. The campaign emphasized that a donation was more than just about the quality of a new Home, but an investment in the future of the community. As one editorialist wrote in 1921, “the money that is being spent on the children of today will not have to be spent on the prisons and almshouses of tomorrow.” Children also tried to help. One girl wrote to the local newspaper about turning in old license plates for money, which later would become a citywide project.
The present site of more than 20 acres was donated by Webb Floyd of New York City. The children had greater access to the outdoors than they had at the previous Home. The beautiful location had a trolley connection to the City of Poughkeepsie and was supplied with city light and water. To the west one could see the Hudson River, to the north the Catskill Mountains, and to the south the Fishkill Mountains. Plans for the new building were approved by the State Board of Charities, and a $50,000 mortgage was secured. The cornerstone was laid in 1922, and on May 18 of the next year, 47 children in white uniforms and black stockings moved in carrying their dolls and toys. The Home had served 1,998 children by that time.
With two full stories, terra cotta walls with a red tile roof, and built in the shape of a “T”, the children had a new place to explore and call home. The Home had a capacity of up to 70 people at a time, providing plenty of space for the children. The infirmary had isolation wards and a nursery full of equipment and blankets.
Soon a half-time follow-up worker was hired. A radio set was installed and manual training classes were started. The Home’s chickens produced eggs and the garden supplied vegetables. The new Home, with its vast amount of space, divided dormitories, and classrooms, was conducive to provide children with the “best training morally, physically, and educationally,” while also giving children the comfort of being in a real home, a feeling, as one observer remarked, they seemed to have lacked.At this time the staff of the Home steered away from an “institutionalist” approach to care, and moved towards “the cultivation of homely joys and wholesome virtues characterized by home-life.” As a routine, all children woke up at 6:30 am, made their beds, ate breakfast, and then had to perform household duties. For example, one […]
Happy & Healthy Childhood Memories1930
The Home purchased a school bus, its first vehicle, in 1930. More emphasis was placed on a home-like atmosphere: the assembly room was redecorated with comfortable chairs and couches, and a wading pool was constructed. The children lived in dormitories divided by gender and age, and had their own cubicles as private space. In the girls’ playroom were dolls and carriages along with a playhouse outside. The girls were taught how to cook meals while the boys learned how to garden. The nursery, full of ivory and pink spreads, delicately cared for the little ones. The children still wore uniforms consisting of blue knickers or skirts and middy blouses; but major changes were coming, along with a new director.
In 1937, Margaret Garrison, who would serve for decades under that name and later be known as Mrs. Race, assumed leadership of the Home. Her guiding philosophy was one of individual development and responsibility to others. Uniforms were abandoned so that the children wouldn’t stand out in school. Bright bedspreads replaced institutional white bed covers and long tables gave way to family-style ones. Bedtime became age-appropriate, rather than a mandatory 7 pm. Children were encouraged to bring their friends home, and the annual Teachers’ Tea began. Those above nursery age received allowances with which they purchased Christmas presents for relatives. Children attended churches of their choice.
Many recreational activities were provided for the children. Observance of established holidays provided opportunities to teach or have fun. On Valentine’s Day, the children got rewarded for whoever made the best valentine. For Washington’s Birthday, the children would listen to a story of Washington’s life, while also having a flag drill to learn about Americanism as defined at that time. During the summer, the children enjoyed many picnics at Woodcliff Park and swimming at Beck’s grove. In the fall, Norrie Park at Staatsburg was a more appealing spot for the children to have picnics. Thanksgiving was often celebrated the Sunday before the holiday, with singing and a discussion of the meaning of the holiday. Birthdays were celebrated in a monthly birthday party and no child was ever left out. The goal of many of these celebrations was for the children to learn about American culture and the importance of optimism in one’s life.
The Home bought a sedan to transport children around the community. There were weekly trips to the Y, movies, and visits to the Capitol in Albany and Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh. An Activities Director was hired for the summer. The 15 member staff included both a trained nurse and a consulting child psychologist. Staff began attending social worker conferences. By 1939, girls were no longer required to leave at age 12, but could remain until they were able to go out and earn a living. Boys left for foster homes at the age of 14.The Home purchased a school bus, its first vehicle, in 1930. More emphasis was placed on a home-like atmosphere: the assembly room was redecorated with comfortable chairs and couches, and a wading pool was constructed. The children lived in dormitories divided by gender and age, and had their own cubicles as private space. In the […]
A Growing Community1940
World War II caused considerable economic adversity for the Children’s Home, with state aid not being sufficient to support the services the Home provided. It was essential to garner generous donations from businesses, community members, and other non-profit organizations. The social stigma attached to welfare, coupled with the second class status held by women made the work of the female dominated staff all the more difficult. Thus World War II brought rising costs, reduced staff, and rationed food.
On November 4, 1945, the Children’s Home made a public appeal for financial aid for the first time in 25 years, asking for at least $5,000 in donations as well as an increased endowment. It appeared that the Children’s Home was largely unaffected from the wartime economic recovery. The Home raised its own chickens and lambs. Some girls had summer jobs in factories; others were paid to work in the nursery. In addition to caring for their rooms, children had weekly chores including “tidying the Home, making salads, rinsing dishes, working in the two-acre garden, or canning vegetables.” After school they could make a snack and were encouraged to invite friends to dinner. Older girls went to dances at the Y or invited beaus to the Home. If a young man asked a girl out, he was to meet Miss Garrison first. The boys, who were younger, had a playroom with a fort, toys, and model airplanes. Outside, there was a sandbox, swings, and a fireplace for picnics. Some boys attended a weekly Junior Achievement workshop.
Children and staff were fed for 50½ cents each per day, thanks to food donations from friends, government surpluses, and vegetables from the garden. The child-care program intensified, with staff meetings featuring speakers from related professions. The Board of Managers increased by seven women from around the county. Special contributions allowed 13 boys to attend camp, and another earned his way as an assistant counselor. Volunteers included a sewing group that contributed 820 hours in one year to clothing repair. A new oil heating system costing $7,000 replaced the original coal-burning furnace.
In 1946, with the war over, the Home decided once again not to keep boys beyond age 12 or admit girls over 13 years of age. Forty applicants from broken homes had to be turned away for lack of space. There were 72 children, and 500 bed sheets were purchased for $60.25. Children could now spend holidays with family and friends. For the first time, a part-time social worker was hired. $20,000 was needed for replacements and maintenance deferred by the war.
The year 1947 brought the centennial celebration of the founding of the Home. Local officials and friends attended the gala event in a period-decorated room complete with a period-dressed matron and children.
In the winter of 1949, the Home made an appeal for $10,000 to cover facility repairs. Beginning in November, and stretching into December, the Home received $12,672 in donations, over 25% more than the minimum amount necessary to better the Home’s facilities.
By the end of the decade, construction of a baseball diamond and a playground were complete.World War II caused considerable economic adversity for the Children’s Home, with state aid not being sufficient to support the services the Home provided. It was essential to garner generous donations from businesses, community members, and other non-profit organizations. The social stigma attached to welfare, coupled with the second class status held by women made […]
A Care Based Approach1950
Since expenses had increased 14% in five years and an aging building needed repairs, the Board instituted the first of its annual fund drives in 1951 with a goal of raising $10,000. The next year, $15,000 was sought to help cover expenditures of $84,000, which included $10,000 for capital improvements alone. The wardrobe budget (including haircuts, shoe repair, and dry cleaning) was kept to $42.71 per child, thanks to clothing donations, volunteer efforts to make and mend clothes, and girls who funded their own clothing through earnings from summer employment. Throughout the year local barbers came to the home and cut the children’s hair at no cost to the home. Mrs. Charles A. Butts, the manager for the fundraising campaign, explained how the barbers made “a party” out of the experience, and that the children “never enjoyed haircutting more.” In addition, the Knights Templar visited the home during the holiday season with gifts for the children. These acts of philanthropy were honored during the annual Children’s Home Christmas party which featured Dominic Cavaliero and his orchestra’s musical performance.
Caseworker services of a staff social worker enabled the Home to accept emotionally disturbed children in 1952. Since social agencies favored sending preschool children to foster care, the Home served girls aged 5 to 16, or through high school, and boys aged 5 to 13, although it also operated a daycare center for younger children for three years. In 1954, Miss Garrison married Austin Race, resigned, and Frank Bartholomew became the new director.
The activities of the Children’s Home staff indicated that the Home moved to a care based approach for the administration of aid and child welfare. For example, Director Bartholomew spoke at a conference in New York City on the “The Role of Group Work and Recreation in Institutional Life” in 1956. In 1957, Marion Sears, the Children’s Home social worker at the time, attended a statewide conference on child care in the sphere of public welfare. In a brief interview with The Poughkeepsie Journal, Sears explained that the main emphasis of the conference was “prevention of social problems than later cure,’ and went on to say that it is an institution’s duty to provide more than just shelter and care. These new ideas informed numerous activities and community outreach programs for home residents, for example collaboration with the Boy Scouts of America. In addition, all children attended local schools, such as Violet Avenue Elementary School and local churches including First Presbyterian, St. Paul’s Episcopal, and St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. This lent a sense of normalcy to the lives of children despite the lack of a stable family life. This perspective was discreetly expressed through much of the Children’s Home publicity and public appeals at the time. For example, one pamphlet sent to potential donors asked for funds “in order to continue and build sound future citizen”, implying that without the Children’s Home services, disadvantaged children could turn to delinquency and threaten the stability of future generations.
Children now not only came from Dutchess, but Putnam, Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, and Westchester counties as well. In 1957, recently widowed Mrs. Race took the helm again. By decade’s end, the majority of the children were teens; more than 4,000 children had been served, the budget passed the $100,000 mark, and the annual campaign goal reached $30,000. The Home received the American Legion’s 1959 award for “outstanding contribution to the welfare of the community.”Since expenses had increased 14% in five years and an aging building needed repairs, the Board instituted the first of its annual fund drives in 1951 with a goal of raising $10,000. The next year, $15,000 was sought to help cover expenditures of $84,000, which included $10,000 for capital improvements alone. The wardrobe budget (including […]
Preparation for Life in the Community1960
Children still came to the Home due to family illness, death, or separation, but admittance cases involving desertion or abuse increased. By 1963 the Children’s Home had 60 children ages six to eighteen living under its care. Only two years later the Home cared for 75 children. Serving an increasingly older population, children were guided in the responsibilities of employment and budgeting. Community service was stressed, and some girls became hospital candy stripers. Memorial funds were utilized to start a library, and a student-aid fund helped those going on to higher education when a 1964 change in social welfare laws enabled the Home to continue assistance to age 21.
In 1965, the director, Mrs. Race, was named Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women’s Club. The Home set up an employee benefits plan and improved its hospitalization coverage in order to attract and retain capable staff members. Expenditures exceeded $250,000 in 1969.
To prepare older children to take their place in the community, the Home opened an off-campus cottage where 6 girls could live with house parents to learn homemaking and family skills. A part-time clinical psychologist and more social workers were added to the staff.Children still came to the Home due to family illness, death, or separation, but admittance cases involving desertion or abuse increased. By 1963 the Children’s Home had 60 children ages six to eighteen living under its care. Only two years later the Home cared for 75 children. Serving an increasingly older population, children were guided […]
For Those Who Need Love & Care1970
A capital campaign allowed the Home to expand its very successful cottage program. A larger house served girls, and one was also opened for boys, since they could now stay at the Home through high school. In addition, a gymnasium/recreation center was built on campus for sports, arts and crafts, and remedial reading. Discussions were held on topics such as drugs, consumer economics, and the world of work. Children also went into the community for swimming, bowling, Scouts, ballet, and music lessons. Families were encouraged to visit, along with community volunteers like Big Brothers Big Sisters. During the summer, children held jobs, vacationed in rented cottages at the beach and the mountains, and attended concerts.
On October 1, 1974, Dr. Paul Bainbridge joined the staff. Affectionately known as “Doc”, this would begin a 31-year career caring for children at the Home.
In February of 1975, Mrs. Race retired after 38 years as director. She had nurtured 1,049 of the 5,000 plus children who had been at the Home since its founding. Indicative of her place in their hearts, 38 former residents chose to hold their weddings or receptions at the Children’s Home during her tenure. Following her death in 1978, a plaque was placed in the entrance hall of the main building to honor children who would win the annual Margaret Race Memorial Achievement Award.
Margaret Gold ably headed the staff from 1975 to 1977. She was followed by Frank Dwyer, an extraordinarily capable Executive Director.
Children’s activities in the “70’s focused on the development of self-esteem through group experiences designed to foster goal-setting and cooperative skills. The children’s Greener Grounds Co. did landscaping, built a log cabin entirely with hand tools, and erected a greenhouse. A wilderness program took groups up Mt. Washington and on canoeing/camping trips.
Changes in the law freed more children for adoption, and the Home responded by initiating a program to recruit and prepare families for adoption or long-term foster case. Family therapy, parenting education, and aftercare were provided for children with their own potentially viable families. The Home added a full-time psychiatrist as Director of Clinical Services, and a psychologist as well.A capital campaign allowed the Home to expand its very successful cottage program. A larger house served girls, and one was also opened for boys, since they could now stay at the Home through high school. In addition, a gymnasium/recreation center was built on campus for sports, arts and crafts, and remedial reading. Discussions were […]
Facing Violence, Homelessness, Substance Abuse, Mental Illness & Unemployment1980
Children entered the Home with more serious social and psychological conditions stemming from family problems that were more resistant to change, including violence, homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, and unemployment. Many of the children were preadolescents and 3 of 4 referrals were for boys.
With emphasis on permanent placement, families were given counseling in parenting skills such as budgeting and nutrition. Nonetheless, it was increasingly difficult to place older children, minorities, and those with physical and behavioral problems. Therefore, recreation, job training, and other staff organized activities emphasized social and scholastic competence leading toward the goal of ultimate self-sufficiency. When children were discharged, financial aid was provided for basic needs like food, furniture, and a telephone. At least six months of transitional follow-up care was also rendered, in keeping with the philosophy that it is important to assist parents and teach them, rather than to substitute for them and assume their responsibility.
In 1980, the Margaret Race Memorial Garden, with secluded benches shaded by flowering trees, was dedicated. A picnic pavilion and playground built by children and staff were both added in 1981. More than 6,000 children had been cared for by this time, and the budget was $1 million, including $55,000 from the annual campaign. By 1988, those figures were $2 million and $80,000, respectively.
A cottage for 12 girls was built on the grounds in 1984, and in 1987 an agency-operated boarding home in LaGrange was opened to prepare girls for independent living.
By decade’s end, staff members were availing themselves of the Home’s tuition assistance program for advanced study in their work-related fields.Children entered the Home with more serious social and psychological conditions stemming from family problems that were more resistant to change, including violence, homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, and unemployment. Many of the children were preadolescents and 3 of 4 referrals were for boys. With emphasis on permanent placement, families were given counseling in parenting […]
Kids Who Care1990
Judy Harford, one of the Home’s most highly valued and longest serving child-care workers, retired in 1990 after 47 years of loving dedication to the children at the Home.
In 1991, a group of children organized the “Kids Who Care” club, which fostered an awareness of others and an appreciation of the good aspects of their own lives. The club was able to adopt a boy in a third world country and support organizations like Save the Whales through such fundraising efforts as car washes, dinners, and bake sales. Further, club members built and expanded a nature trail on the grounds. Children also demonstrated appreciation for others at the annual Teachers’ Tea and the Christmas Open House.
Staff members continued to supply remedial study, recreation, therapy, adoptive counseling, and evaluation services. Individual behavioral contracts helped each child develop interpersonal skills and promote acceptable behavior leading to success and improved self-esteem. In addition, the children benefited from community programs such as Pop Warner football, Little League, school clubs, Scouts, and activities at the YMCA and YWCA. Generous supporters donated goods, money, and volunteer time that enabled the Home to continue its tradition of excellence.
Recognizing the fact that contact between children and families facilitates reunification, the Home established an 800 number to encourage families to phone their children and the staff. The Home also offered families training and therapy, help with daycare, after-school care and tutoring, etc. Many of these families were involved with programs in mental health and substance abuse, food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), all of which were scheduled for reduced funding.
However, a great number of children had no family member to whom they could return. The Children’s Home thus supported treatment foster homes which provided short-term care that did not require commitment levels that deterred either adoptive parents or higher-risk case children. The Home also participated in a coalition of agencies that helped establish a direct-care concentration in Sociology at SUNY New Paltz. These agencies raised funds for tuition assistance and provided fieldwork placement for students.
In 1992, the Children’s Home received national accreditation, affirming that it meets the very highest standards in children’s services.
The 1990s was a period of reduced state and federal services. In 1993, fees covered only 86% of the Home’s $3 million budget. In past decades, needs were identified, then resources found. However, in the 1990s, available resources were determined first, and then allocated to those in need. Social service policy dictated that community service alternatives be exhausted before referral to group care, with the result that many children had several unsuccessful placements before even reaching the Children’s Home.Judy Harford, one of the Home’s most highly valued and longest serving child-care workers, retired in 1990 after 47 years of loving dedication to the children at the Home. In 1991, a group of children organized the “Kids Who Care” club, which fostered an awareness of others and an appreciation of the good aspects of […]
Helping Children & Families That Need it the Most2000
In 2000, the two Alvin F. Rauscher Cottages on the main campus were completed for twenty-eight boys. The new cottages were made possible through the estate of Mr. Rauscher, who was a resident of the Children’s Home in the 1930s.
At the end of the year 2000, after serving as Executive Director for 22 years, Frank Dwyer retired and current Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Walter J. Joseph took the helm.
The first Supervised Independent Living Program (SILP) apartment opened in December 2001, providing young adults a transitional experience to help prepare them for full independence.
In June 2002, major renovations to the main house were completed. The changes gave staff an improved work environment and addressed a number of problems with basic systems in the building.
Changing priorities in New York’s Office of Children and Family Services continued to reduce the number of referrals to the traditional Campus Residential program. The Home responded by identifying other unmet needs for at-risk children.
In 2003, the Group Emergency Foster Care Program (GEFC) opened six beds to support Dutchess County’s child protective efforts. The program provides a safe, immediately available option when removal of children from their homes is necessary to protect them from imminent danger. The program expanded to twelve beds and then sixteen beds in 2006. By 2010 there were 23 beds. The program continued to grow to 30 beds in 2018, serving multiple counties.
In December 2005, Dr. Paul Bainbridge “Doc” retired after a 31-year career.
In 2006, responding to the need for more proactive marketing and private fundraising, the Home hired its first staff development professional.
In 2008 the Home adopted the Sanctuary Model as a framework for how we operate as an agency. This model represents a comprehensive trauma-informed method for creating a safe trauma informed environment for the children in our care.
On September 28, 2008 the Home hosted the first annual Margaret Garrison Race Awards reception, aptly named after the former Executive Director who served for 38 years. Funds from the event were used for the Home’s recreation program.
In 2009 a 24-bed Therapeutic Foster Home program was designed to keep children and youth in family homes. Renovations were made to the Mair Recreation Center, and now included a gym, dance studio and art room.In 2000, the two Alvin F. Rauscher Cottages on the main campus were completed for twenty-eight boys. The new cottages were made possible through the estate of Mr. Rauscher, who was a resident of the Children’s Home in the 1930s. At the end of the year 2000, after serving as Executive Director for 22 years, […]
Growth at Home & in the Community2010
In 2010 the Young Mothers Program, providing services to young women in foster care who were pregnant or parenting, opened with 8 beds in a newly purchased, renovated home. Within weeks the program quickly filled. The need for additional services led to rapid expansion to 28 beds in three cottages by 2013. The program provided the only maternity beds for this population in the Mid-Hudson Valley.
In May 2010 the Board of Managers approved a proposal to establish a planned giving society for those who have included the Children’s Home in their estate planning.
In July 2010, Dr. David Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP, was hired as Clinical Director. Dr. Crenshaw is a nationally known presenter and leader in play therapy. Dr. Crenshaw expanded the Home’s intern programs to provide training opportunities for psychology students from Marist College and SUNY New Paltz. Each year 12-20 psychology interns work with the Children’s Home. Internships for Social Work students from Marist College are also available, as well as Child Care interns from Dutchess Community College, Vassar College, Mount St. Mary College and SUNY New Paltz.
In 2011, as part of an active Facility Service Dog program, the Children’s Home made judicial history, when, for the first time, a facility service dog named Rosie was allowed to help comfort a child witness in an abuse case in a New York courtroom. Later that year, Ivy, Rosie’s sister, was donated to the Children’s Home to work with the children in therapy. In 2013, Ivy passed away and the home welcomed Ace, the grandson of Rosie and the nephew of Ivy to the therapy team that June.
In 2012, the Board of Managers voted to change its charter, becoming the Board of Directors, and opening membership to men and women. Six members of the former Board of Counselors joined the new Board of Directors. The Home again received high marks as an outstanding agency in its re-accreditation review.
In 2013 Executive Director Walter Joseph was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as a member of the New York Justice Center’s Advisory Council. The Justice Center was created in legislation known as the “Protection of People with Special Needs Act” to establish the strongest standards and practices in the nation for protecting people with special needs. It serves both as a law enforcement agency and as an advocate for people with special needs.
The Home hosted their first Open Your Heart Cocktail Concert in February 2013 in an effort to increase the number of friends to the Home and offer something different to the community. This event was well received and replaced the Margaret Garrison Race Awards the following year as the Home’s annual fundraiser.
On April 16, 2014, Children’s Home Executive Director, Walter Joseph was recognized by the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce with the “Leadership in Organization and Community Headliner Award”.
Responding to a United States federal government request to provide beds for unaccompanied children fleeing unrest in Central America, the Children’s Home opened its first Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program. The UAC program operated from May 2014 through October 2015 and served 75 children.
In November 2014, the Home received its largest bequest on record with a gift of $5.7 million from the Estate of Edith DiDomizio. This gift would be used to expand the Main House building.
On December 31, 2015 the Therapeutic and Regular Foster Homes programs closed due to a reduction in the need for therapeutic foster homes due to an increased emphasis on community and home based services.
In 2016, the Children’s Home earned re-accreditation from the Council on Accreditation for its exemplary adherence to human welfare agency guidelines. The assessment team declared the Home a stellar agency and a model for others in the field.
On April 26, 2016 the Home welcomed Marshall, a golden retriever and the half brother of Ace to the Facility Service Dog team.
During the summer of 2016, Students from Mill Street Loft’s Project ABLE worked with artist Joe Pimentel to create a two story high “Power Up!” mural on the outside of the Children’s Home gym. In addition, students from the Art Institute of Mill Street Loft’s National Art Honor Society designed and created four murals that were installed in two of the children’s cottages. The murals transformed the living spaces and the children loved them.
In October 2016 the Home opened a fourteen-bed program to provide services to adolescent girls who are survivors of, or at high risk for exploitation and trafficking, and girls that have a complex history of trauma. The Safe Harbour program is trauma responsive and focuses on the treatment, recovery, and healing of the girls. The program provides the only beds serving this population in upstate New York.
In December 2016, the Home began providing Care Management Services as a part of the NYS Department of Health Children’s Health Home Program. This program provides care coordination services to children, youth and families with chronic conditions as well as complex mental and physical health needs. In 2017, the Home served 18 Families from three counties.
On May 17, 2017 the Children’s Home was recognized by Mill Street Loft and Spark Media Project with a Friend of the Arts Award.
In late Summer 2017, the Home completed a 9,000 square foot addition to the main building. This is the first time the footprint of the main building was altered since it was built in 1923. The generous bequest from the Estate of Edith DiDomizio in 2014 allowed the Home to undertake this incredible renovation that provided much needed space for enhanced children’s services. A state of the art kitchen, larger dining room, more play therapy space, family visiting space, an art therapy room, a children’s library were all part of the project. A ribbon cutting was hosted to coincide with the Home’s 170th anniversary.
In 2018, the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie received two grants from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a national non-profit public charity, that brings children waiting in foster care one step closer to being adopted into safe, loving and permanent homes. The grants were dedicated to funding child-focused adoption recruiters for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK), a signature program of the Foundation. The recruiters would work in Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan counties in New York.
On June 27, 2018, Elvis, a black labrador, was welcomed as the newest Facility Service Dog to work alongside Ace and Marshall.
In March 2019, in response to New York State’s Raise the Age (RTA) initiative, the Home opened 20 beds to serve 16 and 17 year old boys newly placed in the foster care system.
In May of 2019, the Children’s Home was awarded a three-year grant from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to again provide Residential Services to unaccompanied children. The Nuevas Alas/New Wings – Emergency Shelter Program serves refugee children who are fleeing from their countries of origin to seek safety in the United States. The goal of the program is to reunify children with their families as quickly as possible and ensure their safety and well-being. Youth who enter the program receive medical attention, academic instruction, and recreational programming in addition to Case Management and Clinical services. The program would be located in West Park, NY.In 2010 the Young Mothers Program, providing services to young women in foster care who were pregnant or parenting, opened with 8 beds in a newly purchased, renovated home. Within weeks the program quickly filled. The need for additional services led to rapid expansion to 28 beds in three cottages by 2013. The program provided […]
176 Years of Healing & Hope2020
The Nuevas Alas/New Wings – Emergency Shelter program welcomed the first youth on February 5, 2020.
In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic hit our world. In an effort to keep the kids and staff as safe as possible, the agency shifted to a remote work posture for the administrative and clinical services teams. Youth counselors, dietary staff, nursing department, maintenance team and housekeeping staff continued to come in daily. The Home provided tele-therapy, virtual family visits, and remote school for all kids in care.
On May 25 2020, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer while three other officers looked on. By June, protests erupted nationwide. Similarly to many throughout our community and nation, many of our children felt outrage and fear, worsened by each’s past trauma and present challenges. On June 3, the Children’s Home invited children and staff to gather as a family to stand against racism. Children and staff stood outside with their noses and mouths covered—six-feet-apart, and yet side-by-side. CHP, one family, many faces, standing together against racism.
Due to a decline in teen pregnancy nationwide and a reduction in admissions, the Home’s Young Mothers program closed on June 30, 2020.
In December 2020 the Home received approval to provide 12 Long Term Foster Care beds for unaccompanied children. The Nuevas Alas/New Wings – Long Term Foster Care program serves unaccompanied children who have been victims of trafficking, abuse or persecution and remain unaccompanied through the inability to identify a family member or viable sponsor in the United States, including unaccompanied Afghan minors. This program focuses on the development of independent living skills, and acculturation to life in the United States. Youth are enrolled in the local public school and receive medical services, life skills classes, individual and group counseling and case management while they work towards securing legal status in the United States.
The Child Welfare Programs experienced significant changes over the last few years, most especially with the Families First Prevention Act. In response to this new federal policy, congregate care settings were being sought out less for youth as the initiative is to keep youth within the home or a lower level of care. As a result, the utilization of the Home’s residential programs decreased. The Group Emergency Foster Care program (GEFC) was closed in January 2021 and on May 5, 2021 the Home’s traditional campus based residential program closed.
In March 2021 the Nuevas Alas/New Wings – Emergency Shelter program expanded its bed capacity from 50 to 62 beds.
On April 19, 2021 the Raise the Age program (RTA) closed.
In June 2021, the Nuevas Alas/New Wings program moved from West Park, NY to the Home’s main campus in Poughkeepsie, NY.
The Home’s Community Based Services program continued to expand. On July 12, 2021 the Home received approval through the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) to provide Children and Family Treatment and Support Services (CFTSS) to Medicaid eligible children outside of the public foster care system. This is the Home’s first OMH license.
In October 2021, the first youth were admitted to the Nuevas Alas/New Wings – Long Term Foster Care program.
In December 2021 the Home received the first Afghan youth into the Nuevas Alas/New Wings – Long Term Foster Care program.
On January 21, 2022 the Children’s Home celebrated 175 years since its founding in 1847. A series of events and activities were planned for the year.
In April 2022, the Home became the first agency in New York State to be certified by the Office of Children and Family Services as an Empower Program provider to serve sexually traumatized, abused and trafficked youth in foster care.
The Home received accreditation from the Council on Accreditation on June 13, 2022, since we have since 1980. (The Council on Accreditation, along with the Alliance for Strong Families & Communities joined forces to form Social Current.)
On June 30, 2022 the Home hosted its Open Your Heart Cocktail Concert and 175th Anniversary Celebration. Guests gathered at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie, NY for a musical performance and a viewing an anniversary film produced and directed by students in The Art Effect’s Forge Media program.
As a result of these changes in public policy, our Board and Executive Leadership team collaborated to draft new mission and vision statements that more accurately reflect the work being done with children and families today. In November 2022 a new mission and vision statement were announced:
Empowering children and families to achieve optimal health and well being
A world where every child and family have access to the tools, skills and support they need to thrive
The Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie is a private, not-for-profit, New York State Corporation licensed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the New York State Office of Mental Health and the Department of Health. The Home provides a full range of Community Based Services, Unaccompanied Minor Shelter Services, Child Welfare Residential Services, and a Facility Service Dog Program, giving healing and hope to at-risk children. Each year approximately 1,000 children and their families receive services.
Empowering children and families to achieve optimal health and well being
A world where every child and family have access to the tools, skills and support they need to thriveThe Nuevas Alas/New Wings – Emergency Shelter program welcomed the first youth on February 5, 2020. In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic hit our world. In an effort to keep the kids and staff as safe as possible, the agency shifted to a remote work posture for the administrative and clinical services teams. Youth counselors, […]
If you have old photographs or other documents relating to the Children’s Home, we would love to review them for possible inclusion in our historical archives. Contact our Development Office by phone by 845-452-1420, ext. 177.