The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia has provided pivotal services to West Virginia’s most vulnerable children and families since 1896.
Every year, we offer child welfare, behavioral health, social casework, and advocacy services, including foster care and adoption, to 15,000+ children and families from 13 primary locations statewide. Our aim is to help build a future where, ultimately, our services are no longer needed: where every child has a safe and permanent home, a family to love them, and opportunities to thrive.
Mission & Vision
Promoting The Well-Being of West Virginia Children
From the beginning, our mission has been to promote the well-being of all West Virginia children. While the challenges facing our state have evolved greatly since our founding in 1896, the need to find safe and loving homes for kids in West Virginia has not diminished. In fact, at this moment, there are more families in crisis and more kids in need of the security of a stable home than ever before. By collaborating closely with other organizations and institutions across the state, we’re working to ensure that every child in West Virginia grows up in a reliable and nurturing family, and that all families are equipped with the tools and support they need to see their children succeed.
The future that we envision is one in which all kids have a safe place to rest their head at night and a family eager to greet them when they climb out of bed in the morning; a future in which families are whole and kids are free to dream without feeling afraid. To make this happen, though, we need to help West Virginia families and communities grow stronger, too. Families must be supported by their communities, and communities must be rich with economic, educational, and social opportunities for every one of its members. To create this future, individuals and organizations from diverse spheres of life (agencies, state governmental partners, concerned citizens, faith-based groups, and other advocates) must act, and act together—because West Virginia children will thrive when we all do.
In the spring of 1896, the Reverend D.W. Comstock, a retired minister and longtime representative of the National Children’s Home Association, recruited four Charleston-based ministers and the director of the local YMCA to help form The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. On May 4, the State of West Virginia issued a certificate of incorporation in the Society’s name for “the purpose of finding homes for homeless and dependent children.”
The Society’s first facility was located on Washington Street in Charleston. Named after U.S. Senator Henry Gassaway Davis, whose estate continues to provide operating funds, the Davis Child Shelter was the only home of its kind in the state, describing itself as a “home-finding institution” rather than an orphanage. While the Davis Child Shelter was originally planned as a home for four to eight waiting children along with the superintendent and his assistants, the influenza epidemics in the early 1900’s and the depression years caused the capacity of the shelter to grow to 110.
The mid-1900’s brought its share of changes, too. Shifting social trends in the 70’s, such as a decreasing number of birth parents choosing to place their infants for adoption, led the agency to focus more on the adoptive placement of children with special needs and emotional challenges.
The Society continued to grow and expand its services during the later part of the century, and it received full accreditation of all sites and programs from the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children in September, 1991. Programs relating to foster care, outreach, family visitation, respite, prenatal and early childhood services, parenting skills training, community-based social work, and truancy diversion services were added, and new shelters were built.
Today, the Society has 13 primary locations, 9 emergency child shelters, statewide adoption, foster care, volunteer, and mentoring programs, and 15 other family support and intervention programs. In 2020, we provided crucial assistance to more than 15,000 children and their families throughout the state. Our board members, staff, and volunteers continue to celebrate the Society’s century-old tradition of service to West Virginia’s children and families and to rededicate themselves to the mission of promoting the well-being of children.