The History of JCCA
1822-1915 1917-1953 1960-1980 1983-present
1822 A $300 treasury is raised by the Jewish community to form the Hebrew Benevolent Society, which will “ameliorate the condition of the unfortunate of the same faith.”
1860 The Hebrew Benevolent Society creates New York City’s first Jewish orphanage. Thirty children move to a three-story brick building on what is now West 29th Street; by 1863, a new building for 200 children is erected on 77th Street and Third Avenue. By the end of the Civil War, its population has doubled.
1874 The flood of European immigrants into a depression-plagued America means more homeless children. The newly renamed Hebrew Benevolent Society and Orphan Asylum agrees to accept public funds — $110 per year, per child to help care for them.
1878 When an overwhelmed HBSOA votes to accept only Manhattan’s children, Brooklyn’s Jewish community is granted a charter for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of the City of Brooklyn.
1879 Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society is founded with a woman president and an all-woman board to care for destitute children, orphaned or not. Later it will establish Pleasantville Cottage School in Westchester.
1884 The Hebrew Orphan Asylum opens a huge new building on 136th Street and Amsterdam Avenue to accommodate the children of sick and overwhelmed immigrants. The new orphanage will eventually have a capacity of 1,755 children.
1895 The Home for Hebrew Infants is founded in the Bronx to care for Jewish babies considered too young for orphanages, placing children in foster homes beginning in 1929. In 1942, it will merge with JCCA and close its institution.
1908 HSGS starts an aftercare department to insure a successful start in life for the young people leaving its institutions; in 1909 the first White House Conference on Dependent Children votes overwhelmingly in favor of family care for dependent children.
1912 Four hundred and eighty children leave HSGS on 150th Street in Manhattan for the Pleasantville Cottage School — the first cottage-style institution in the United States. It is described as “the best equipped institution for children in the world.”
1915 The Child Welfare Act is passed, granting allowances to widows. Within two years, New York City’s orphanage population shrinks by 3,000 as mothers become able to care for their children.
1917 Twenty-four Manhattan and Bronx agencies, including HOA, HSGS, and the Home for Hebrew Infants, form the Federation for Support of Jewish Philanthropies.
1919 The HOA establishes two summer camps, “Wakitan” for boys, “Wehaha” for girls. They will provide unforgettable memories for thousands of youngsters until they close in 1947.
1920 HOA is one of the charter members and founding agencies of the Child Welfare League of America.
1922 Jewish Children’s Clearing Bureau is founded to aid placement in 10 Manhattan Jewish agencies. For the first time, professional staff is used to determine if placement is necessary.
1925 Operated by the HOA, a 123-acre site in the Edenwald section of the Bronx becomes a home for 15 developmentally disabled teenage girls. Soon, younger girls are added, and in 1929, a separate school for boys is built on the grounds.
1925 A young psychiatric social worker, Julia Goldman, establishes the first psychiatric clinic in an American child care institution at Pleasantville Cottage School.
1934 The Foster Home Bureau and HOA are among the agencies that organize to help 600 Jewish refugee children from Germany. Many adult refugees who escaped the Nazis come to work at HOA, making lasting contributions to child welfare.
1940 After decades of discussion, the merger of Hebrew Orphan Asylum, Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society, Fellowship House and the Jewish Children’s Clearing Bureau is negotiated by Dr. Maurice Hexter. The new agency, the New York Association for Jewish Children (later Jewish Child Care Association) is responsible for 3,471 children and 2,084 foster homes.
1946 JCCA becomes the first of the city’s child care agencies to have a unionized staff.
1946 JCCA responds to the needs of young survivors of World War II, helping 430 young people restart their lives in the United States.
1947 Recognizing the need for help in re-entering society, JCCA founds two halfway houses — Friendly Home for Girls and Fellowship House for Boys for young people discharged from JCCA institutions.
1952 Backed by UJA Federation, an experimental family day care program, the first in New York State, opens for 15 children, eight months to three years old; with the aid of government funding, JCCA day care homes will care for hundreds of children by the 1970s.
1953 JCCA establishes the first of its agency-owned foster homes in Midwood, Brooklyn. A cross between a group residence and a foster home, a second home in Midwood is purchased in 1956.
1960 Jewish Youth Services of Brooklyn merges with JCCA.
1961 JCCA establishes a central psychiatric clinic; by 1971, the staff includes 11 psychiatrists and eight psychologists caring for children throughout the agency.
1962 Hartman Homecrest, an Orthodox children’s agency, merges with JCCA, adding significantly to its number of group homes.
1965 Through passage of state legislation, a Union Free School is created to serve the young people at PCS and later Edenwald.
1967 In response to a child care crisis in the city, JCCA opens its placement divisions to children of all faiths.
1968 Youth Residence Center, an innovative, coed, therapeutic residential treatment program for 40 older adolescents, ages 16 to 21, is built on Manhattan’s East Side.
1970 Childville, a nonsectarian residential treatment center for severely disturbed young children, merges with JCCA; in 1982 it is absorbed into PCS.
1971 Vernondale Group Residence is founded for eight orthopedically handicapped young people who do not need hospital care but cannot return home.
1972 Pleasantville Diagnostic Center is founded to provide intensive diagnostic evaluations for boys. A day treatment program opens at Pleasantville enabling local youngsters to remain with their families.
1973 A six-million-dollar Building Fund Campaign begins to modernize Pleasantville Cottage School and construct a new Edenwald on the same campus.
1975 Edenwald relocates to the Pleasantville Campus where it houses 96 young people with both emotional and cognitive difficulties. The mission: “to provide a place where each child can live up to his own strengths and learn his value as a person.”
1978 Two Together, a program which provides volunteer tutors to children, comes to JCCA.
1978 A new division, Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled, is created as part of the statewide implementation of the Willowbrook Consent Decree to reduce the size of large state institutions for the cognitively handicapped.
1980 Kingsbrook Residence in Brooklyn joins Mt. Vernon, Far Rockaway, and Pleasantville Special Cottage 4 as the fourth JCCA residence for the severely cognitively handicapped.
1983 New group day care center opens in Forest Hills that eventually serves hundreds of children, many from immigrant families.
1984 Brooklyn Child and Adolescent Guidance Center is founded, the first new outpatient mental health clinic funded by the state in 10 years.
1985 Networking Adoption Program begins to help parents adopt privately.
1988 New York’s Mayor Koch salutes Pleasantville Cottage School on its 75th Anniversary, saying “we needed you and you were there.”
1989 Group Home Division opens a new Independent Living Program in Queens for teenage mothers and their babies.
1990 JCCA receives Child Welfare League of America Award for its outstanding contributions to the field of child welfare.
1991 The JCCA Research Department is established to focus on practice-oriented studies.
1992 Thousands of copies of Child Abuse Alert, co-published with COFCCA, are distributed around the country to educate the public about signs of abuse and neglect.
1993 Day Care Consultation Services help local communities develop appropriate day care programs.
1993 JCCA and the Ackerman Institute develop the Kinship Project to link expertise of a family therapy institute with kinship foster care.
1994 Brooklyn Families First helps families who are recently relocated or who have been homeless; the Therapeutic Foster Boarding Home Program offers specialized care to 24 troubled children who have the potential to remain within a family unit in the community.
1995 JCCA holds it's first symposium on adoption; and the Networking Adoption Program (established in 1985) changes it's name to Ametz Adoption Program to reflect the addition of specific services for Jewish families. The program still serves families of all nationalities and religions.
1997 Agency restructuring results in new Foster Home Services, Community-Based Residential Services, and Campus-Based Residential Services.
1997 Agency-owned foster homes for large sibling groups are created to allow children to remain with their siblings.
1999 JCCA receives a contract from New York City for 335 foster home beds in the Bronx.
1999 JCCA celebrates more than 175 years of caring for New York’s children and families.
2000-2006 - For each year since the inception of the City’s annual performance review JCCA’s foster boarding home programs are rated “Excellent.”
2007 - JCCA celebrates 185 years of service to children and families and presents inaugural Tikkun Olam award to philanthropist Howard N. Blitman.
2008 JCCA acheived Hague Accreditation through the Council on Accreditation (COA) as authorized by the United States Department of State, for a five year period, ending February 28, 2013. This accreditation allows JCCA to provide adoption services in connnection with adoptions under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.