For 120 years, Children’s Aid and Family Services has continuously evolved to meet community needs. What began as an agency to help orphaned children has become so much more. Not only does the agency provide safe space for abused, neglected and homeless children but it has dramatically expanded services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, whatever their age. In addition, we’ve created breakthrough programs to stem our communities’ burgeoning substance abuse problem, especially opioids.
Let me tell you a little bit about today’s Children’s Aid and Family Services. First and foremost, our 120-year commitment to vulnerable children remains strong. Right now, we have more than 30 programs for children in need. We are redoubling our efforts to recruit more foster families for youngsters who have experienced severe trauma. We focus on finding loving adoptive families for older children and, at Zoe’s Place, on providing supportive housing and mentoring for teenage mothers who have absolutely nowhere else to turn.
A second and growing focus is to provide quality community homes, day programming and after-school respite for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Imagine the comfort families feel knowing that their loved one has a safe, supportive place to spend the day or live. We’ve expanded our Disability Support Services program by opening new homes. We also offer a top-notch day program for adults that features an arts and crafts studio, social café and commercial kitchen. Our goal: to help people with disabilities lead lives not of limits but of possibilities.
Yet another pressing community need today is alcohol and drug abuse prevention and education. Through our Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources, we provide prevention education to children and families. For those for whom prevention comes too late, we offer both recovery services and much-needed support to women whose loved ones have substance abuse problems.
For 120 years, our services and programs have evolved to meet ever-changing needs. Now more than ever, that adaptability is at the core of who we are and what we do. At this exciting time in our history, I invite you to get involved with one of our life-changing programs.
For me, Children’s Aid and Family Services is not just a community mission. It is personal. Yes, I am a board member. But far more important, Children’s Aid made me a father 25 years ago. Now, as my adoptive son grapples with addiction, as so many do today, I lean on it for resources, wisdom and support. My connection with the agency has been the relationship of a lifetime. It can be the same for you. Thank you.
C. Tyler Mathisen
Chair, Board of Trustees