Touching Lives Across Iowa Since 1888

Children & Families of Iowa has been restoring hope, building futures and changing lives for Iowa’s most vulnerable children, families and communities for 135 years. The organization was started in 1888 as a response to a growing need for safe, loving homes for abandoned, neglected and “unwanted” children in Iowa. Since then Children & Families of Iowa has touched over a million lives. From a small adoption agency serving a few hundred children to a statewide organization serving more than 35,000 people every year, the organization has grown by adhering to one, basic principle: every child, every family deserves to be safe. This tradition remains strong even today. Tough economic times are even tougher on those living with poverty, mental illness, addiction and family turmoil. As always, Children & Families of Iowa will be there finding new and creative ways to help Iowa’s families.

The Iowa Educational Aid Society is founded in Davenport, Iowa by a small group of ministers and lay people. Three principles are adopted as a foundation for the society’s work:

  1. A family home is superior to an orphanage or other institution as a place to raise children.
  2. There is a childless home for every homeless child.
  3. An organization is needed as an intermediary between homeless children and childless homes.

This society evolves into the organization known today as Children & Families of Iowa.

The organization’s name is changed to Iowa Children’s Home Society.

Iowa Children’s Home Society’s headquarters is relocated to a private home in Des Moines.

A children’s receiving home is built in Des Moines on East 9th Street near Union Park.

The organization becomes an agency of the Public Welfare Bureau, now known as United Way.

A new focus on pre-placement studies before matching children with prospective adoptive families is put in place.

The State Bureau of Child Welfare began and the organization became licensed as a child placing agency.

The Community Chest provides funding that began the organization’s work with at-risk children in their own homes.

Iowa Children’s Home Society relocates its headquarters to downtown Des Moines, adds specialized resources to care for and place older children as well as those with emotional and behavioral problems.

The first child psychiatrist is hired by the organization, and it adds a public relations department to improve the organization’s financial stability.

Iowa Children’s Home Society is reincorporated as a non-profit, charitable organization.

The organization moves its headquarters to a remodeled residence at 2203 Grand Avenue in Des Moines.

St. Monica’s School merges with the organization and becomes known as Casady Hall.

A group home for adolescent girls is opened. Farrand House is named after Nellie and Roy Farrand who created a 10-year trust for it’s establishment.

Headquarters is relocated to 1011 Walnut Street in Des Moines.

The organization opens it’s first branch office in Fort Dodge.

Casady Hall is replaced with a new residential group home.

The Elizabeth S. Turner School begins operation out of the organization headquarters facility. This was a cooperative effort of the organization and the Des Moines Public School System to provide “last chance” opportunities for children who could not attend public school due to behavioral issues.

To better reflect the scope of services offered the organization changes its name to Iowa Children’s and Family Services.

Iowa Children’s and Family Services purchases and remodels a building in the Des Moines Model Cities area to house its Tiny Tots Child Care Center.

The organization discontinues accepting applications from adoptive parents interested in only adopting “healthy, white infants.”

Emergency Homemaker Services begins in an effort to help disrupted families.

The Polk County Coalition of Battered Women requests that the organization oversee and operate its Family Violence Center.

A group home for adolescent girls and in-home support services is established in Ottumwa by the organization.

The organization establishes a group home for adolescent girls in Newton.

Child Development Care Center merges with the organization becoming the Child Development Center.

Iowa Children’s and Family Services Foundation is established and undertakes its first capital fund drive in an effort to provide building and endowment funds.

The Council for Accreditation and Services for Families and Children gives the organization its highest possible rating.

New statewide Domestic Abuse Hotline begins operating at the Family Violence Center.

Iowa Children’s and Family Services celebrates its 100th anniversary.

The organization builds a new Family Violence Center and opens a new headquarters facility at 1111 University Avenue in Des Moines.

The Board of Directors votes to change the organization’s name to Children & Families of Iowa.

Our Primary Purpose merges with the organization and Cornerstone Recovery is established in Ankeny, providing services for families with chemically dependent adolescents.

Children & Families of Iowa begins to offer international support.

School-age children and children with severe behavioral problems are now eligible for enrollment at the Child Development Center, which includes Therapeutic Childcare.

Website: www.cfiowa.org is launched.

The organization receives a three-year Federal grant allowing Cornerstone Recovery to enhance it’s outpatient services.

Children & Families of Iowa takes over operation of Teddy Bear Town at Scavo High School, allowing teen moms to graduate while providing quality and convenient onsite childcare.

The Compass Transitional Housing Project begins operation to help survivors of domestic violence establish and maintain violence-free independent lives through skill-building classes and affordable housing.

Children & Families of Iowa receives a Federal grant to fund the Compass Transitional Housing Project and supporting services. The organization begins a formalized outcomes project with the University of Iowa School of Social Work Research Dividion.

A domestic violence law enforcement advocate position is added by the organization. This advocate is headquartered at the Des Moines Police Department and begins accompanying investigators as they interview victims. The advocate informs victims of services to them.

The Building Futures Capital Campaign begins to renovate seven aging Children & Families of Iowa facilities. Children & Families of Iowa becomes a leader in the delivery of counseling and psychiatric services to rural Iowa counties through Telehealth services.

Children & Families of Iowa celebrates 125 years of providing resources and support to at-risk families and individuals, creating safe, happy homes.

After helping pioneer services in southern Iowa, CFI wins the statewide contract for the Parent Partner program.

Capital Campaign project begins with major renovations at CFI’s Domestic Violence Shelter, headquarters office, teen residences and Child Development Center.

At the conclusion of the fiscal year, CFI has provided services for 18,203 children and families from all 99 counties in Iowa by a workforce of over 300 staff members.

CFI’s Child Development Center attains a 5 on the state’s Quality Rating System, the highest score possible.

CFI becomes a Pediatric Integrated Health Home provider (HH).

Dr. Gloria Gray retires from CFI after serving 14 years as Chief Executive Officer, effective February 27, 2015.

Janice Lane, CFI’s Chief Operating Officer, is promoted to the role of CEO, effective March 1, 2015.

On March 6, 2015, Iowa Governor Brandstad announces the Medicaid Modernization initiative and the changes that will occur with the Medicaid-eligible participants.

In April of 2015, the decision is made to close the Cassidy Boys Group home due to fluctuating census, staffing and financial challenges of the program.

The Iowa Department of Human Services releases a request for proposals for Governor Brandstad’s Medicaid Modernization. Three Managed Care Organizations are confirmed and selected to provide health care services. This marks a difficult transition for CFI and other providers across Iowa: long-standing billing issues cause problems for CFI, and the organization is forced to address the challenges of managed care with Medicaid members. A significant amount of advocacy work is put into place to address these challenging issues of denied claims/suspended claims and slow payment.

In April 2016, the decision is made to close the Farrand House. The facility now operates as the Northside Center with a focus on women-specific, community-based outpatient services.

The state/federal grant programs (Domestic Violence Services, Tracking and Monitoring, WIOA) are renewed for a 3-5 year time frame.

CFI continues to adapt to the effect of Medicaid privatization in Iowa, in addition to the department of Human Services restructuring their service delivery model. These combined changes have made an immense impact for human service providers.

In an effort to begin the transition to the new world of service delivery and incorporate new funding streams, the CFI Leadership Team and Strategic Planning Diversification Committee begin assessing all services provided by the agency. The ultimate goal is to align program business models with the agency strategic plan.

Shortly before the first of the year, CFI’s Cornerstone facility is granted an expansion of its license to extend service to adults with substance abuse disorders. This expansion of outpatient behavioral health services includes mental health, substance abuse (adult and adolescent) and domestic violence.

On February 1, 2017, CFI suspends its PMIC beds for one year, Cornerstone maintains its license as a PMIC service provider.

Connect 2 Careers (WIOA/Regional 11) receives community acknowledgement and recognition from United Way of Central Iowa for its exemplary work serving an eight-county area.

CFI celebrates its 130th anniversary.