Shannon Kelly | Children’s Aid Society in Clearfield County
Children’s Aid Society was organized in October 1890 as the first child welfare agency in Clearfield County. The Society was created to place children in carefully selected suitable homes and prevent these orphaned children from spending their young lives in the Poor House. Visiting homes throughout the county was challenging in horse and buggy days, especially in bad weather. As the number of children increased, a Children’s Home seemed to be the best solution.
In 1915, the Society rented a small house on Spruce Street and equipped it to house 10-20 children with Mrs. Kelso as matron. The small house was soon outgrown. In 1917, benefactors Asbury W. Lee and John Wrigley anonymously built the Children’s Home for the Society. The Home was called the Mystery House while being constructed, as no one knew the builders or its purpose. The building was presented to the Society in July,1918 with the stipulation that it always serve children, and it was named the Children’s Home.
The Home often had forty or more children in residence and 20 or more in foster or adoptive homes. There were many adoptions over the years. In the first 50 years, approximately 1140 children were under the Society’s care.
In 1980, there was a national movement to move children from orphanages to foster homes, and by 1983, the children in the home had been moved to other homes.
The board of directors faced the challenging decision of whether or not to dissolve Children’s Aid Society. We are grateful that they had the courage and foresight to continue. Naturally, the first interest was to become a formal Adoption Agency and help find loving families for children in need. A formal license application was submitted in 1985, and the first adoption happened in 1986.
Our Adoption & Foster Care Programs continued to grow and evolved over the years and still do to this day. In 2016, we held our first Adoption Matching Event and continue to do so annually. Families looking to provide permanency for children and that are currently working with an agency attended as well to learn more about these amazing children. In 2017, we saw a need for a foster/adoptive support group and organized one to be held monthly on the third Monday of each month. The support group provides foster and adoptive families a social network of families that have had all moved through the process of foster and/or adoption. In addition to receiving and providing support, families gather information about community resources, learn helpful strategies, and earn training hours.
Currently, Children’s Aid Society’s Adoption & Foster Care Programs operates as a full-service foster/adoption agency, providing services to individuals and families in all stages of the foster/adoption process in 16 counties in central Pennsylvania. Our Adoption Program is also an affiliate of the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) and is Hague Accredited.