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    vintage photo of group of kids on the seesaw

    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 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 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 at the 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.”