West Virginia Children's Home
The West Virginia Children's Home has served the State of West Virginia with housing and placement of orphaned, neglected, and dependent children from 1911 through the present. In its early years, the home was meant to serve as a short-term housing solution for children who ranged in age from two to fourteen years old who typically stayed here for less than six months. Today, the home has a different mission as youth who have demonstrated behavioral issues from all 55 counties in West Virginia are housed here on a more long-term basis. The West Virginia Children's Home includes an accredited school and serves children from the ages of twelve to eighteen with the goal of preparing youth for the transition to independent living or for life in a group or foster home.
Backstory and Context
The West Virginia Children's Home opened on May 9, 1911, bringing with it the transfer of the Humane Society headquarters from Wheeling, WV. The children were consolidated from smaller homes located throughout Elkins, Wheeling, and the rest of West Virginia. The home was meant to serve healthy children who were orphaned, abandoned, neglected, or cruelly treated. At the time of its creation, the home only admitted white children and a separate home was created and maintained until racial integration began in the 1950s. Children sent here were originally kept here until a more permanent home could be located and most children stayed from 3-6 months and ranged in age from 2-14 years old.
The home never served children with mental or physical disabilities and only a small portion of the children were orphaned. The children assisted with the adjacent farm and the girls were taught to cook, clean, sew, and complete laundry work as well as help with the younger children. In 1956, the West Virginia Colored Children's Home in Huntington, WV was closed and the Elkins Children's Home became integrated. The home remained in operation until 1977 when it was given a new mission to treat, provide long-term care and evaluation of disturbed teenagers.
The facility now operates as a long-term care for children ages 12-18 from throughout West Virginia. These children have not been able to transition into foster care or a group home setting due to behavioral issues. The facility has its own state accredited school on campus and provides a number of activities ranging from arts and crafts, swimming, and sports to first aid/CPR training and nutrition training/food handlers card.
September 29, 2017. Accessed April 17, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Virginia_Children%27s_Home.
WV National Register of Historic Places. Accessed April 17, 2018. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/randolph/94001287.pdf.
The West Virginia Children's Home, WV DHHR. Accessed March 21st 2020. https://dhhr.wv.gov/bcf/Providers/Pages/The-West-Virginia-Children%27s-Home.aspx.
Blevins, Ernest. "A history of orphanages in West Virginia." Daily Mail WV (Charleston) August 29th 2019. .