Our History

Children’s Friend, Rhode Island’s first child-serving nonprofit agency, was founded in 1834 in Providence as a home for abandoned and abused children.  We accomplish our mission by ensuring that our services are family-centered, seamless, and outcome-driven.  Children’s Friend also takes a leadership role in advocating on behalf of Rhode Island’s youngest and most vulnerable children, while being responsible stewards of the agency’s resources.

With sites in Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls, we provide a broad array of prevention and intervention services for children and families. These include: adoption; foster care; parent education; Early Intervention; nurse family visiting for high-risk newborns; Nurse-Family Partnership; Healthy Families America; 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 2019, nearly 31,800 individuals received services from Children’s Friend, and 91 percent had incomes below the federal poverty level.

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