Our History

Children’s Friend is Rhode Island’s first child-serving nonprofit agency, providing services for children and families in need for 184 years.

Founded in 1834 in Providence, the agency started as a home for abused children and has evolved into one of the state’s most innovative human service agencies. Guided by our mission, Children’s Friend is the innovative leader in improving the well-being and healthy development of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable young children. By reaching children in their earliest years and by working with the entire family, Children’s Friend helps children grow up in the best possible environment while assisting their families to become self-sufficient.

With sites in Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls, we provide a broad array of services for children and families. These include: clinical services; adoption; foster care; parent education; Early Intervention; nurse family visiting for high-risk newborns; Nurse-Family Partnership; Healthy Families America; Youth Success; Providence Talks; WIC; Early Head Start, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, and Head Start; State-funded Pre-K; a summer learning and enrichment program; child care, including therapeutic child care for children with special needs; and a variety of family support and family preservation programs.

Children’s Friend also operates its sites as Family Support Centers, offering a full array of services to at-risk children and their families.  These other services include crisis intervention, education, family literacy programs, and advocacy and linkage with other community services.  In 2017, 36,336 individuals received services from Children’s Friend, and 96 percent had incomes below the federal poverty level.




Read The Privilege of Caring, a brief history of Children’s Friend.