Thousands of children, dirty, malnourished and alone, boarded the Orphan Trains near the turn of the 20th century, desperately hoping to find families. During a time when public welfare was nonexistent and few laws protected children, a national movement was beginning, triggered by the constant stream of orphans traveling the tracks.
In an effort to find families for homeless, neglected children, Children's Home Society of Florida (CHS) was established in Jacksonville on November 17, 1902, under the guidance of Rev. D.W. Comstock. By 1947, the organization had grown to a staff of 54, caring for more than 53,000 children throughout its first 45 years.
Leading the way
Earning its national reputation, CHS became instrumental in creating legislation to protect children's rights in Florida and throughout the country. After playing an integral role in enacting Child Labor Laws, CHS drafted the Compulsory Education Law and rallied for the creation of the State Welfare Board and the agency that would become the Department of Children and Families. Most recently, CHS assumed a lead role supporting the launch of Community Based Care as Florida underwent a dramatic shift with the privatization of child welfare.
And as one of the founding members of the Child Welfare League of America, CHS continues to fight for additional legislation protecting the rights of children and families. CHS has attained continuous accreditation by the Council on Accreditation since 1982.
Our array of services includes family and individual counseling, child abuse prevention and intervention services, home-based services, help for pregnant teens and first-time mothers, residential and group homes, adoption and foster care services, mentoring programs, family preservation, and so much more. Its initial single-room office has expanded into 15 divisions throughout the state, headquartered in Winter Park, with nearly 2,000 employees. Last year CHS provided services to more than 200,000 children and families in the state of Florida.