Our Home’s History

    • 1847

      A Legacy of Healing & Hope

      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 […]
    • 1850

      Home for the Friendless

      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 […]
    • 1860

      Community Friends Make all the Difference

      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 […]
    • 1870

      Changes at the Home

      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 […]
    • 1880

      Growing Together

      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 […]
    • 1890
      photo of the Exhibition Hall Dutchess County Fair Washington Hollow Site

      Community Outings & Celebrations

      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 […]
    • 1900

      Facing Sickness & Debt

      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 […]
    • 1920

      Same Home, New Building

      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 […]
    • 1930

      Happy & Healthy Childhood Memories

      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 […]
    • 1940

      A Growing Community

      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 […]
    • 1950

      A Care Based Approach

      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 […]
    • 1960

      Preparation for Life in the Community

      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 […]
    • 1970

      For Those Who Need Love & Care

      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 […]
    • 1980

      Facing Violence, Homelessness, Substance Abuse, Mental Illness & Unemployment

      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 […]
    • 1990

      Kids Who Care

      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 […]
    • 2000

      Helping Children & Families That Need it the Most

      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, […]
    • 2010

      Growth at Home & in the Community

      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 […]
    • 2020

      176 Years of Healing & Hope

      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, […]

    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.

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