Chambliss Center for Children recently celebrated 140 years of service to the Chattanooga community, and we are proud to have a future that is just as significant and exciting as our past!
The beginnings of Chambliss Center for Children can be traced all the way back to 1872 when a group of local church women started an orphanage that later became known as the Vine Street Orphan's Home. After moving from Vine Street to our current Brainerd location in 1939, the name was changed to Children's Home (CH). In 1969, CH began a program that had never been done before- 24 hour/day childcare. This program continues today as our Extended Child Care Program.
The Extended Child Care Program (ECE) is our largest program, but certainly not the only one that we operate. After the overwhelming success and growth of the ECE program, Children's Home was asked to take on additional responsibility for another child-related program in 1983. This is when we contracted with Hamilton County Government to move the Chambliss Shelter to our Brainerd campus and operate the residential facility. We then became known as Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter. The Chambliss Shelter began in 1946 when Judge Alexander Chambliss, a judge in the Supreme Court, saw children removed from their homes with no place to go. Today, our Residential Program continues Judge Chambliss' goal of caring for children during an especially hard time in their life.
The Chambliss Shelter was our first collaboration, but would certainly not be our last. The scope of the responsibility of then Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter would expand again in 1986 when we worked with the United Way to take over operations of a struggling childcare center on the campus of Howard High School. This collaborative model seemed to be working as we continued to enter into partnerships with existing childcare centers: East Fifth Street Childcare Center (now Children's Academy for Education and Learning) in 1989, Newton Child Development Center and Volunteer Community School in 1999, and Pro Re Bona Day Nursery in 2005. All five childcare centers are now managed by Chambliss Center for Children staff but remain their own entity with their own Boards of Directors.
In addition to the five off-site centers, we also began to partner with the Hamilton County Department of Education to provide childcare inside Hamilton County Schools in 2002. This collaboration has expanded to eight schools and allows teachers to have on-site childcare.
In total, Chambliss Center for Children cares for over 650 children every day throughout the city. Though our programs and locations are many, we have one goal of caring for children and strengthening families. That is why our overall mission is "to preserve family unity and to help prevent the dependency, neglect, abuse and delinquency of children by responding to the community's childcare needs."