The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia is the state’s largest child-service organization. Its mission is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of children and their families, improve family relationships, and preserve family and community ties. The society was formed by Charleston ministers at the city’s YMCA on May 4, 1896. Their goal was to place orphaned and neglected children with caring families rather than crowd them into county poorhouses. For much of its history, the society’s most identifiable institution was Charleston’s Davis Child Shelter, an orphanage established in 1900 with financing from former U.S. Sen. Henry Gassaway Davis. The orphanage closed in 1961 as part of a national movement to remove children from institutions and place them in foster homes.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Charleston society branched statewide, opening offices in Sistersville and Morgantown. In 1978, a new Davis Child Shelter was established in South Charleston through a state government contract to care for neglected, dependent, and abused children. In 1995, the Davis Child Shelter moved to a new facility near Yeager Airport in Charleston. Similar shelters were added in Northfork, Romney, Martinsburg, Daniels, Huntington, Parkersburg, and Fairlea in the 1980s and 1990s. Other statewide programs sponsored by the society include programs to reduce child abuse and neglect and community-and home-based protective services.
This Article was written by Stan Bumgardner
Bumgardner, Stan. Children's Home Society of West Virginia: Children - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Charleston: Children Home Society, 1996.