In 1866, when the forerunner to today’s Child & Family opened its doors in Newport, it served some of that city’s most vulnerable children. The organization was founded as the Home for Friendless Children when Ellen Townsend convinced her brother, Christopher, to donate their home, along with $500 for repairs, to establish an orphange for some of the many children she saw begging in the streets.
“The community came together and really supported the Home,” explains Keith Tavares, Child & Family’s vice president of institutional advancement, noting that goods and services were donated by local doctors, seamstresses, farmers, and others.
The services have changed and expanded through the past centrury and a half, but vulnerable children – and now their families – remain at the core of Child & Family’s mission. “All of our programs, from our early childhood programs to our services for the elderly, are based on preserving families,” explains CEO Marty Sinnott.
A recent comprehensive strategic planning process is further refining their work. “We’re looking at evidence-based best practices, evaluating what we do, and working to influence public policy in the state,” Marty continues.
One of the organization’s most substantial shifts since its founding is a focus, not on housing children, but on providing community based services. Its efforts are paying off: 92% of the children it serves avoid out of home placement.
“We see ourselves as a statewide organization following the needs of families,” Marty states, explaining they provide a full range of services on Aquidneck Island and serve families statewide through the Rhode Island Care Management Network.
The organization’s strategic plan addresses not only the delivery of services, but also funding of services. “The only way to survive is to change our mix of income,” says Keith, noting Child & Family’s heavy dependence on government funding.
This endowment is one element of the goal to increase private giving. In their decision to partner with the Foundation, Marty says, “We want to leverage the expertise you have to help inspire our donors and prospective donors to support the hard work that we do.”