Boston's North End - 1918
As it had ravaged the world, the influenza epidemic of 1918 devastated Boston's congested North End and left hundreds of orphans in its wake. Touched by this tragic crisis, Father Antonio Sousa, O.F.M. pastor of St. Leonard's Church (the first Italian parish in New England, established in 1875) took the cause to heart, and set about to mobilize the Italian community. The orphaned children of the North End became the subject of Sousa's sermons and numerous letters sent to other Italian Roman Catholic Churches in the Boston Archdiocese.
A group of 42 Italian-Americans gathered at St. Anthony's Hall adjacent to St. Leonard's to organize and select a Board of Directors and Incorporators to create the Home for Italian Children in Massachusetts.
In the spring of 1920, the fundraising campaign enabled the purchase of the Gahm Estate in Jamaica Plain, a 10-acre farm with farmhouse and barn. Cardinal O'Connell arranged for Sister Mary Valentina, a Missionary Franciscan Sister of the Immaculate Conception and teacher at St. Anthony's school in the North End, to operate the Home for Italian Children with six members of her order.
The Home for Italian Children officially opened with 30 girls aged 4-14 in residence. Admission broadened to include boys in 1929.
During this time, the Home cared for approximately 115 children annually. The average age was 10 and the average stay was one year, although it ranged from 6 months to 10 years. Unlike most other orphanages and child welfare agencies of the time, children were not placed with foster or adoptive families, as domestic servants (which was not the custom for Italians), or transferred to other institutions. Rather, most of the children at the Home simply remained there until they could return to their parents or relatives or until an older sibling could care for them.
At its beginning, the Home's founders had the foresight to also concern themselves with "other children of Italian parentage, whose parents are unable for any cause to support them properly." The Home therefore was founded on by-laws that gave it a continuing function for children long after the aftermath of the influenza epidemic.
Over the years, IHC began to change the nature of its services - from Italian children to children of all races, nationalities and religions, and from custodial care to treatment.
Italian Home for Children separates from the Catholic Church.
Subsequently, children with behavioral and family problems, many of them victims of abuse or neglect, were also accepted. The professional services of a social worker, consulting psychologist and teachers were added to supplement the work of the Sisters in providing services to the children.
In response to the changing political and social climate, the Home's name was changed. Keeping its ties to the Italian community, the agency became the Italian Home for Children. By the mid-1970's, the Home had become a residential treatment center providing clinical services for emotionally challenged children of all nationalities and races
Full range of clinical and educational services was developed. The main building was renovated to create modern, cottage-style units and additional office space
The Home added an emergency shelter program for immediate care for children at risk.
The Mary Savioli Pallotta Educational Center was built to provide special education services.
The Italian Home for Children acquired Cranwood Group Home in East Freetown, MA to expand its residential services to two group home facilities.
In a joint venture with the Walker Home and School, the Italian Home acquired the Brighton Allston Mental Health Association (BAMHA) to complete its continuum of services, by providing community-based services.
The Italian Home received notification that we have been nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA). COA accreditation attests that an organization meets the highest national standards and is delivering the best quality care to the community it serves.
Our outpatient mental health clinic in Dorchester opens. This location is focused on working with low-income and homeless women and their children.
Italian Home began providing In-Home Therapy and Therapeutic Mentoring in the Empowering People In Communities (EPIC) program as part of the Massachusetts’ Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative.
Italian Home for Children's continuum of care includes mental health services, in-home therapy, therapeutic mentoring, afterschool program, therapeutic day school, intensive group home, residential treatment, and acute residential treatment services. The continuum also includes serving children, individuals and families of all ages.
Italian Home for Children became sole owner of the Brighton Allston Mental Health Association (BAMHA).