Next year marks the 125th anniversary of Children’s Home Society, which began as a humble Chicago orphanage in 1893.
Children’s Home Society focused heavily on group homes for orphaned children for much of its long life. With the advent of the modern foster care system in the 1970s, Children’s Home Society shifted focus to provide valuable resources and assistance to victims of child abuse and domestic violence. The organization also provides assistance to families with children suffering from emotional and behavioral problems beyond the parents’ grasp.
Today, Children’s Home Society has locations in 21 states, including South Dakota. Based in Sioux Falls, the society provides emergency shelter for abused or neglected children and family members, residential treatment and education, foster care and adoption services, and child abuse and domestic violence education and prevention programs.
Rick Weber has been with Children’s Home Society of South Dakota for 30 years, the past 15 of them as development director. He says philanthropic donations and collaborations with community partners like South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF) are critical for his organization’s ability to carry out its mission. While the society does receive government funding, it simply falls short of what’s needed to cover the services the organization offers.
"Children’s Home Society of South Dakota’s current budget is roughly $20 million," Weber says, and about 17 percent (or $3.4 million) of that budget needs to come from charitable support."
“Those who assist Children’s Home Society help us provide people with one of the most basic things we need as human beings: safety. How can anyone develop to their full potential without safety?” said Weber.
Weber says the future of the Children’s Home Society includes the development of a much larger child abuse, neglect, and domestic violence prevention program. “There’s a great need and a great opportunity to focus on prevention,” he says. “While we’ll always be there to respond, rescue, and support those who have been victimized, we really believe we need to do more to prevent abuse and domestic violence from happening in the first place.”