Boys & Girls Aid works to secure lifelong connections for every child in Oregon. Regardless of age or background, we believe children belong in families that are permanent and stable. While every child deserves a family, not every child has a family. Between the ages of 0 to 23, we have a focus on making sure every child has a lifelong adult connected to their future.
When a child enters foster care, they enter having experienced abuse or neglect on some mental, physical or emotional level. Foster care is intended to be a temporary arrangement that provides safety and time to fix mistakes. Each year, roughly 8,000 children in Oregon are in this situation. Too often, these children leave foster care more damaged than when they entered. And for hundreds of children, their time in the system is more than temporary.
Without a focus on foster care, children in the system face an invisible achievement gap that creates devastating outcomes. Compared to their peers, foster children will transfer schools more, change homes more, and have meaningful adults exit their lives more. Adults who spent time in foster care make up a larger portion of the dropout, homeless and incarcerated population.
We are the only organization in Oregon committed to finding lifelong connections for children in foster care. We believe in foster care as a temporary solution and that when children exit the system, they leave for good.
We focus on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of children while they are in foster homes and ensure they are placed into a forever family that will continue to help them grow. A lifelong connection means one school, one home and one family. It’s our solution to the achievement gap for foster children and it’s a solution we believe will create a better future for all Oregonians.
We do not simply find families, we find the right families for children in need. When children enter our care, they are connected with trained adults who prepare them for the next step. Whether than means returning home or growing with a family through adoption, our goal is that children exit our care with the tools to rise above a history of abuse or neglect and thrive as adults.
For 131 years, we have improved the lives of children on a daily basis. When Boys & Girls Aid was founded in 1885, there was a common goal that children deserved better than the harms and dangers of abusive and neglectful parents. While our approach and practices have improved, our core mission has not. And it will not until all children are given a fair chance at success. We believe all children deserve a family to call their own. Until that day comes, we will not stop looking for a solution to the challenges faced by children in Oregon’s foster care system.
Agency was founded by Portland leaders like Henry Corbett and William Ladd to “to improve the condition of the homeless, neglected and the abused.” The agency almost closed its doors multiple times during its first years due to a lack of funding.
William T. Gardner brought stability and expansion of Boys & Girls Aid when he took over as Superintendent, serving until 1914.
The state of Oregon became more involved in funding child welfare, providing a new source for hiring college educated social workers dedicated to care for children in need.
The end of World War II signaled Boys & Girls Aid as a well-established organization that was modern and professional. The Baby Boom generation brought a boom to our infant adoption program as well.
Boys & Girls Aid expanded its focus on adopting children from foster care.
Backed by growing evidence, Boys & Girls Aid began to move away from closed adoption and advocate for openness.
Under the leadership of Michael Balter, Boys & Girls Aid expanded its service to care for older youth who are homeless or with criminal backgrounds.
Boys & Girls Aid committed to connecting every youth with a lifelong connection. This initiative was called the Permanency Promise.
Suzan Huntington becomes President & CEO. As a child, she was adopted from foster care. Today, she advocates for a better future for children in foster care.
We continue to advance our work and improve the way we work. It’s an ongoing process and we want to keep you up to date on every change. Thank you for your support of Boys & Girls Aid. Serving children for 130 years is possible because of your commitment to children in need.