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The Village for Families and Children

Social Services
250 - 500 employees  |  
The history of The Village is the history of the child welfare movement in this country. Founded in 1809 as the Female Beneficent Society of Hartford, it was one of the earliest, if not the first preventive and protective agencies for neglected children in the country. The Society was established by Hartford women shocked by conditions surrounding 'poor females' of Hartford, particularly young girls orphaned or deserted and whose parents could not support them. In 1813, the Female Beneficent Society obtained a charter from the Connecticut General Assembly to "take to themselves young girls and educate and lead them into paths of industry and virtue." At first boarded with families, the children settled into an asylum established by the Society in 1824.

Heartened by the success of the Female Beneficent Society, the Hartford Orphan Asylum opened in 1831 to care for orphaned boys. Obtaining funds was a constant struggle, but both societies began to attract support. In 1836, a group committed to helping children in need purchased an old school building on Washington Street in Hartford and presented it to the two societies. The building was only used for boys until the two societies merged in 1865.

The union of the two societies, combined with the drastic increase in orphans following the Civil War, resulted in the need for a new building. In 1879, the Hartford Orphan Asylum moved into its new home, a large brick building on Hartford's Putnam Street, accommodating 150 boys and girls and, for the first time, babies under three years old.

The plight of many neglected children motivated Virginia Thrall Smith, one of the pioneers in the history of child welfare. She began a crusade to remove all children from almshouses and place them for care with private families, one of the first programs of foster care placement anywhere.

Virginia Thrall Smith
Mrs. Smith also successfully lobbied the General Assembly in 1883, and a law passed preventing the placement of children in almshouses. She also increased services to unmarried mothers, including placement of their babies in temporary foster care until permanent plans could be made. As she defended herself in 1892 against critics who said she was encouraging illegitimacy by running "baby farms," Mrs. Smith and her associates formed a new society - the Connecticut Children's Aid Society.

Meanwhile, the Hartford Orphan Asylum continued to expand its care and in 1911 built a special cottage for girls on the Putnam Street grounds. The cottage, with its smaller groups and less institutional feel, was such a success that cottages became the design plan for a new home for the agency built at 1680 Albany Avenue in 1925. The result: the unique Children's Village in Hartford.
Career Opportunities
Hartford, CT – August 1, 2006 – The Village conducts programs to support children who
struggle academically; however, during the summer, programs depart from the academic support
programs of the regular school year by providing innovative and enriching activities beyond the
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving supports the summer work of the Village by
contributing to both the residential, campus-based programs for children who live at the Village
and to the eight school-based programs throughout Hartford. This year, the Hartford Foundation
provided grants totaling $23,500 to support summer programming at the Village.
“We recognize the importance of a well-structured summer experience that is fun while
at the same time provides children with academic support,” said Linda J. Kelly, president of the
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. “That’s why the Foundation provides $1 million
annually to nonprofit organizations—such as the Village—for camperships, instructional and
summer work experiences for Hartford children and youth.”
Kelly was on hand for the Village’s SHARE (Summer Healing, Academics, Recreation &
Enrichment) program’s therapeutic drumming circle recital. Through therapeutic drumming,
children learn to respect themselves and others, and they improve their concentration and
cooperative social skills. This program, as well as many activities, are enjoyed by the children
who reside on the Village campus at 1680 Albany Avenue in Hartford. Other funders of the
SHARE program include Lincoln Financial, St. Paul Travelers, the Ensworth Foundation and the
Mabel Hoffman Foundation.
The Village for Families & Children, Inc.
1680 Albany Ave.
Hartford, CT 06105
P: (860) 236-4511