Thousands of children boarded the Orphan Trains near the turn of the 20th Century, desperately hoping to find families. Older children – especially strong ones – found homes quickly; younger ones, however, often went from city to city...
More than 400 kids who stepped aboard the trains arrived in Jacksonville, Florida – adding to the state’s already growing population of homeless and abandoned children.
As public welfare was nonexistent and Jacksonville was struggling to recover from the Great Fire of 1901, there were few options – and little hope – for the children who arrived. Living in poverty, they received no education or assistance – until Rev. D.W. Comstock rallied community leaders to step up.
Rev. Comstock believed in the potential of these children – and the community. With a team of two, Children’s Home Society of Florida opened its doors November 17, 1902, to provide a “family” for the children who had nowhere else to go. Rev. Comstock and – soon after in 1910 – Marcus “Daddy” Fagg worked to help these kids find stability and opportunities.
It was the beginning of CHS’ strong legacy to provide the right services and solutions to address the needs of children and families throughout the changing times ... to help more children realize their full potential.
Throughout the early part of the 20th century, Daddy Fagg worked tirelessly to share our mission and garner support. Not only did he lead CHS’ efforts in philanthropy, but he also put the organization at the forefront in helping to create, pass and reform child labor and child welfare laws still in effect today.
Meeting the Evolving Needs
As we respond to evolving social needs, our services evolve with each decade. Reaching every county and community in Florida, nearly 1,300 CHS team members annually help 59,000+ children and family members find – and pursue – opportunities for success and happiness.
When children and families face hard situations, they should not and do not have to face them alone. CHS meets children and families at the right time with the right services – no matter where they are in life.
With CHS, more families are safe, strong and together.
The needs of children and families will continue to grow, continue to evolve. And so will CHS. Because, with each new challenge our families face, comes a new opportunity to do good.
The needs of children and families will continue to grow, continue to evolve. And so will CHS. Because, though we’ve changed over the past century, our roots remain. We will continue to provide children with a strong foundation from which to grow.
With a national reputation to do right by children, CHS has continued to help create legislation to protect children’s rights. We played an integral role in enacting Child Labor Laws, then played an active role in drafting 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. More recently, we assumed a lead role in the launch of community based care as Florida underwent a dramatic shift with the privatization of child welfare.
Moreover, to reach children and families before crises occurred, CHS partnered with the University of Central Florida and Orange County Public Schools in the early 2000s to launch the innovative Community Partnership Schools™ model in Florida, bringing a revolutionary approach to the educational system to help students access services critical to academic and life success.
And we continue to do more. Driven to change the future of foster care, we are leading the nation in developing and implementing solutions that will transform the lives and futures of children. In the midst of an ever-changing child welfare environment, one constant has remained steadfast for more than a century: Children’s Home Society of Florida.
We continue to fight for legislation protecting the rights of children and families, and we remain committed to doing right by kids, illustrated by our continuous accreditation by the Council on Accreditation since 1982.
Children & family members served every year
Children and families cross bridges to success
Students realize their potential at Community Partnership Schools
Children and families build strong foundations for stable futures through early childhood programs
Foster families open hearts and homes to children
Children find families through adoption
We do good.
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