The CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY,established in 1857 and incorporated on 22 Sept. 1865, was the second children's aid society in the U.S. Like its predecessor, the New York Children’s Aid Society, it emphasized placing dependent children in foster homes, but like the  Cleveland ORPHANAGES, it also sheltered them. It initially organized to support the CLEVELAND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL. Robert Waterton served as superintendent of the school and the society from 1857-76; TRUMAN P. HANDY served as president of the trustees from 1857-98. Children's Aid Society trustees included SAMUEL MATHER, JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, AMASA STONE, JEPTHA H. WADE, and George Garretson Wade, among others. The society published The Advocate monthly during the 1860s. In 1876, when the city closed the Cleveland Industrial School, the Children's Aid Society modified its focus to house the children who formerly resided at the school, using the school’s facility at 10427 Detroit Rd.

In 1877, the society revised its constitution and by-laws, resolving to serve destitute and homeless children aged 4-16. Stone and Jeptha H. Wade provided funds for a new 4-story building on the Detroit Rd. grounds, dedicated 26 Jan. 1881. Following the resignation of Waterton in 1876, Rev. William Sampson served as superintendent and chaplain for over 19 years, travelling thousands of miles, placing children and visiting them to confirm the quality of their care. Between July 7, 1876, and December 31, 1893, the society received and cared for 2,109 children. In 1898, DAN P. EELLS became president of the trustees; he served for the next 19 years. In 1921, a Welfare Federation study recommended another modification of services. Under trustees including LEONARD C. HANNA, JR., and Dr. ROBERT H. BISHOP, JR., the institution became a mental-health center for children in 1923. It established a demonstration clinic in 1924, which became the Child Guidance Center of Greater Cleveland (GUIDANCE CENTERS). After various changes over the next 35 years, including a brief consolidation with the Children's Bureau (1927), the Children's Aid Society, like the other orphanages, developed into an accredited residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed children. In 2002, the Children's Aid Society affiliated with Applewood Centers.  In 2021, the original site on Detroit was occupied by the Gerson School, an alternative day school.  

Updated by Marian J. Morton


Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

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Finding aid for the Children's Aid Society Records, WRHS.

Memorial Record of the County of Cuyahoga and City of Cleveland, Ohio (Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1894), pps. 806-9.

See also CHILD CARE.


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