Noted as the oldest children’s charitable organization in the state, Child and Family Services began in 1850 as the Manchester City Missionary Society, a collaborative of several Protestant churches in the areas, whose purpose was to “save the unclaimed souls of the city.” Primarily, it tried to church the “unchurched.” By the end of the century, it added the distribution of charity (food, clothing, fuel) into the mix, for direct relief of stricken families.
MCMS initiatives also included the Fresh Air Camp, Sewing Circles (to prep little girls in the ways of domesticity), immigration services, child labor responses and a day care nursery for laborers of the Amoskeag Mills.
Just after the turn of the century, the Concord Charity Organization was established to raise the needy above the need for relief, prevent begging and imposition and diminish pauperism. COS also ran a Tuberculosis Clinic, launched a Woman’s Alliance, and ran a public playground.
Come the 1920s, both organizations changed their focus to the new wave in social work: family services, a trend toward a professional, non-sectarian, casework practice.
Meanwhile in 1914, the New Hampshire Children’s Aid and Protective Society was born for the purpose of protecting children from abuse and neglect. Up until that time the only hope an abused child had was a combination of animal rescue organizations. NHCAPS was formed through the efforts of one woman, Hannah P. Kimball, whose compassion for an abused girl led to the founding of NHCAPS. Founding fathers were John “Judge McLane, Sherman Burroughs and Huntley Spaulding.
NHCAPS was the statewide organization that came before the law in child protection -- but by the 1930s, the role of investigations was assumed by the state. The organization shifted to a revised mission: To promote child welfare and advance human welfare throughout the state. It placed abused and dependent children with private families, assisted “worthy parents” in placing their children “wherever it became necessary for the home to be broken,” and worked on prevention measures to “keep young people from leading idle and vicious lives.”
In 1967 NHCAS changed its name to Child and Family Services and by 1971 the Manchester and Concord Service organizations had merged with it, forming the largest independent human service organization in the state.
Today, CFS serves, annually (average), about 15,000 children and their families, statewide. Its mission is to advance the well-being of children by providing an array of social services to strengthen family life and by promoting community commitment to the needs of children.