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Cover Story: Nebraska Children's Home Society

Celebrating 115 years of Caring

Photo courtesy of NCHS

(page 1 of 2)

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When Nebraska Children’s Home Society, NCHS, was established in 1893, our nation was experiencing a severe economic depression after a period of strong fiscal growth.  At this time our country also saw a great influx of immigration, mostly from southern and eastern European countries.  

The Nebraska Children’s Home Society, now celebrating its 115th anniversary, was established during turbulent times as a haven for children. It has expanded its services during its lifespan but has remained rooted in its mission of “providing safe and loving care for children of all ages,” says Karen Authier, Executive Director of NCHS.

Since its inception, NCHS has been a progressive voice in child care.  In 1893, some desperate parents were unable to feed and clothe their children, their young children often relegated to lives in orphanages and poor houses until they were either adopted or reached the age of majority.  Other parents turned to NCHS for help.  The founders of NCHS had a different perspective from the orphanages and poor houses of the time.  Rather than just warehousing children, it held the “belief that children should be placed with families as soon as they came into care,” explains Authier. 

“These are parents who are making a thoughtful and purposeful plan for their child.”
– Kim Anderson, NCHS Pregnancy, Parenting, and Adoption Program Director

Many institutions of the time focused on maintenance issues: providing shelter, filling their tummies with warm food and keeping them clothed.  This was good and necessary.  Yet NCHS sought something more.  “Children grow best in families.  It wasn’t enough to just put a roof over their heads.” Authier maintains. 

NCHS has evolved over the last century, adding programs to fit societal shifts and the subsequent changing needs of children and their families.  Yet, Authier notes, NCHS has consistently remained child-focused.  NCHS has never charged for adoption.  The child is the client at NCHS.  Since children are not in the position to offer payment for services, the services are provided to the families at no cost.

Foster, early childhood, teen, and post-adoption programs have been added over time.  Recent years have seen a need for what Authier calls “relationship-based programs,” especially for teenagers.  Discussion groups allow teenagers a safe venue in which to explore ways to develop healthy relationships and learn how to deal with their sexuality.

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