Chicago Child Care Society


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Founded in 1849 to care for children left homeless by the cholera epidemic, CCCS remains unwavering in its commitment to the children and families of Chicago. As the oldest existing child welfare agency in Illinois, CCCS has a rich history and successful record of meeting the profound and changing needs of children through the Civil War, the Great Depression, both World Wars and into the 21st Century.

1849 Founded by Chicago’s most prominent civic leaders, the Chicago Orphan Asylum opens its doors on Wells Street between Van Buren and Harrison streets to children whose parents succumbed in the cholera epidemic.

1853 The Chicago Orphan Asylum builds a new home on two acres at 73 Michigan Ave.

1856 The Agency hires its first teacher and begins schooling children.

1860 During the Civil War, the term “solder’s child” becomes a typical notation in the Agency’s records.

1870 The Chicago Orphan Asylum adopts the policy of accepting destitute children without regard to race, religion or nationality.

1871 During the Great Chicago Fire, the Chicago Orphan Asylum opens its parlors for clothing distribution to those who flee their burning homes in nightclothes.

1882 The Asylum establishes a school within the agency that includes Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary grade levels “after the manner of the public schools”.

1900 The Agency moves to 5120 South Park Ave. and houses children in small cottages with a caretaker to create a “real family” atmosphere.

1931 With only thirteen children in residence, the agency moves away from institutional care and relocates to 4911 Lake Park Avenue which houses offices, ten beds and a small hospital.

1933 Placement of children in permanent homes through adoption begins.

1938 A foster care experiment starts with 17 children placed in private homes. By 1949, there were 100 children in the program, many as a result of work with unmarried mothers.

1949 The Agency celebrates its 100th Anniversary and changes its name to Chicago Child Care Society (CCCS) to more accurately reflect their services.

1951 Chicago Child Care Society establishes a research department to measure children’s progress in foster care homes.

1957 The agency takes over the Hyde Park Nursery for its Day Care Center. It is later renamed The Child and Family Development Center.

1963 CCCS moves into its current home at 5467 S. University Avenue in Hyde Park.

1964 Family Counseling services begin, first as part of the Day Care Center, then as a separate and growing sector of its total programs.

1966 Building on policy of placing children across religious lines, transracial and single parent adoption begins.

1967 The Men’s Board and Women’s Board are merged and a formalized Research Department with a full-time research director is created.

1970 CCCS releases a landmark transracial adoption study, which finds that transracial adoptions do not negatively impact the child.

1975 CCCS celebrates its 125th Anniversary and publishes the “Children of Circumstance” history.

1991 CCCS receives The Chicago Community Trust’s 1991 James Brown Ford IV Annual Award of Excellence for Outstanding Community Service for its outstanding programs in family preservation services.

1999 In its sesquicentennial year, CCCS honors Mrs. Natalie Heineman and launches a major fundraising campaign to support a broad network of programs and alliances that will continue to change children’s lives. CCCS also purchases a townhouse on the same block as the agency to establish additional space for programs.

2001 CCCS begins serving homeless children in the Child and Family Development Center

2003 CFDC was accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children

2004 CCCS acquired the Next Step Program from the Junior League of Chicago to provide college readiness mentoring to parenting high school junior and senior girls with one child.

2006 CCCS establishes an electronic central data base consisting of 2400 former families who participated in an adoption arranged by the agency from 1924 to 1996.

2007 CFDC installs a new, state of the art playground, courtesy of a grant from KaBOOM! & Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, with additional funds from the University of Chicago.

2007 The agency acquires the Teen Alliance Program to provide foster care services to females, between the ages of 14 and 21, who have a history of foster home instability.

2008 CFDC receives the only “four star” rating from the Illinois Department of Human Services quality rating system.

2009 CCCS celebrates its 160th Anniversary, honoring Mrs. Judith S. Block for 40 years of service on the Board of Directors. The Judith Stofer Block Library was established in her honor.

2010 CCCS celebrates its 161st Anniversary, honoring Margaret Carr for over 70 years of service on the Board of Directors. The Peggy Carr Nature Education Center was established in her honor.

2010 The Kenneth W. Watson Education Fund was established by Kenneth Shine, in memory of CCCS retiree, Kenneth W. Watson. The fund awards gifts annually to one or more college-bound teen fathers participating the Next Step – Teen Fathers College Readiness program.

2011 The Clinton Duncan Art Scholars Program was established in honor of Bruce and Martha Clinton and Susan and Sarah Duncan. The Hyde Park Art Center provides art programs for the CFDC and teen parenting programs.

2011 CCCS begins its Early Head Start Program providing service to low income parents and their children ages 0-3.

2013 Chicago Child Care Society renames its Child & Family Development Center (CFDC) to The Preschool Center of Chicago Child Care and celebrates its 50th year anniversary of early childhood education.

2014 With a generous contribution of bequest from Natalie and Ben Heineman, Chicago Child Care Society remodels its 1st Floor Lobby at 5465 S. University Chicago, IL 60615. The lobby is named in their honor.

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