In 1882, Charles Crittenton, a wealthy New Yorker lost his young daughter, Florence, to Scarlet Fever. Following this tragedy, Mr. Crittenton set forth to embark on a cross-country philanthropic journey, offering willing towns a donation of $500 to set up homes for women and children in need. Florence Crittenton Home and Services (FCHS) of Helena, Montana is a private 501(c)3 and was founded in the year 1896. It was officially incorporated in 1900, and has been providing therapeutic services to young families ever since.
While Florence Crittenton has worked with young families for over 112 years in Helena, the focus of this mission has changed over time as the needs of society and the citizens of our community have changed. Once simply a “home for unwed mothers” who were generally sent away in secrecy and shame to have their babies and “give them up” for adoption, we have adapted and changed over the years into a licensed therapeutic maternity home serving at-risk teen parents as well as their at-risk babies. The babies of the girls residing at Crittenton have always, on some level, been fortunate recipients of the expertise and resources focused on their young mothers, it has not been until the last 15 years that we at Florence Crittenton have broadened our emphasis to specifically target the young children in our care and in the community.
This expanded focus on infants and toddlers comes from the philosophy that we have the opportunity to change the behavior of these young mothers in our care, but also positively affect the behavior of the next generation in their babies. Our programs are based on years of research and resulting evidence-informed practices that indicate interventions directed at children from the ages of 0-5 result in the most compelling long-term results and positively impact multiple domains in children including cognitive, linguistic, moral, social, emotional and behavioral. Our hope is to increasingly better the provision of programs and services to this population in an effort to reduce the likelihood of primary and secondary child abuse, decrease the need for intensive crisis-focused interventions with older children, adolescents and young adults later in life. With this new philosophy or early intervention we have become increasingly involved in early childhood initiatives that seek to promote the social/emotional growth and success of this population.
The National Crittenton Foundation
There are now 27 remaining Crittenton agencies across the United States. Each agency is run as a separate entity but all share an overall role of prevention and intervention services for young families
The pledge of the National Crittenton Foundation is to work in collaboration with the Crittenton family of agencies, girls, young women and partners to address root causes and symptoms. They support empowerment, self-sufficiency, and the end of cycles of destructive behaviors for at-risk and system involved girls, young women and their families. .For more information please visit http://www.nationalcrittenton.org
Read more about Florence Crittenton in Helena Montana’s history here:
Montana Magazine FCH history-2005