Our History

Historic Photo of Montana

Celebrating a Legacy and Looking Forward

Grounded in the lessons of a rich history

As a national organization that has been “doing the work” for 135 years, we have a responsibility to answer the questions presented by the fact that we are still supporting the same population. We are challenged to be introspective, to speak the truth, to be transparent, and to “get it right” this time. The cost to girls, young women, their families, communities, and our country, is too great to ignore.

Our History

Mr. Charles Crittenton and Dr. Kate Waller Barrett invested their lives in “the rescue of unfortunate lost girls”

As a result of the dedication of co-founders, Mr. Charles Crittenton, and  Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, the Crittenton social welfare movement was born with a social justice foundation, grounded in a commitment to the rights of women and that they enjoy the same opportunities as men – to change their lives, and to support themselves and their families.

Mr. Crittenton and Dr. Barrett believed that the most effective way to address compelling social issues was at the local level, consistent with the culture, needs, and context of each community. Our founders understood that local organizations across the country would be stronger through an association with their sister organizations, who together could connect the dots and truly catalyze social change.

Through their advocacy, in 1898, The National Florence Crittenton Mission was established, known today as National Crittenton. It was the first charitable organization created through congressional charter as the national umbrella to unite the Crittenton homes.

Aligning Our Work for the 21st Century

More than ten years ago, the trustees of National Crittenton made the decision to leave the auspices of the Child Welfare League of America. This departure marked a reinvention of the 124-year-old organization with a sharpened focus on elevating the needs and potential of girls, young women, and their families whose lives are impacted by violence and childhood adversity. Today, with a family of agencies 26 members strong, a robust advocacy effort including young women and agency representatives, innovative programs, and more, National Crittenton has reinvigorated and strengthened the original model crafted by Mr. Crittenton and Dr. Barrett more than a century ago.

Our History

Mr. Charles Crittenton

The Brother of Girls

In 1883, self-made millionaire Charles Crittenton opened the first Crittenton home in New York City.

A pioneer and social entrepreneur well ahead of his time

Upon the death of his daughter, Florence, Mr. Crittenton dedicated his energy and his finances toward the “betterment of this needy class,” consisting of girls and women commercially exploited for sex, those escaping violent relationships, single mothers, homeless/abandoned girls, and immigrant women who came to this country with the promise of a husband, only to be betrayed. Mr. Crittenton invested his life in advocating and funding the establishment of Crittenton homes across the country to support women committed to changing their lives.

The “Good News” Train
In 1893, Mr. Crittenton purchased and boarded the “Good News” Train to travel across the country catalyzing local support for girls, young women, and women in need and donating funds for the creation of Crittenton homes across the country.

Good News Train Photo

Charles Crittenton Photo

Dr. Kate Waller Barrett

An innovative woman far ahead of her time

A humanitarian, philanthropist, and social reformer

A strong advocate for girls and young women

While raising six children and opening a shelter for unwed mothers, she managed to obtain her M.D. and Sc.D. In 1895, Dr. Barrett officially joined forces with Charles Crittenton to co-found the National Florence Crittenton Mission, now known as National Crittenton. Together, they established rescue homes for unwed mothers and “prostitutes” across the country. More than 70 Crittenton homes operated in the United States and abroad at the time of her death.

In 1909, Dr. Barrett became the Mission’s President, and ignited the movement of supporting girls and young women. Her advocacy efforts and leadership also supported girls and young women beyond the walls of the Crittenton homes.

Among her many accomplishments she was:

  • Voted President of the National Council of Women;
  • Appointed as a delegate to the 1924 Democratic National Convention;
  • Actively engaging Ms. Sarah Malone, Director of the Kansas “colored home” in the Mission’s leadership;
  • Appointed as special agent of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration for her anti-sex trafficking and system change advocacy, changing the way girls and young women were treated while in custody

Dr. Kate Waller Barrett Photo

National Crittenton Through the Years

  • 1883

    Charles N. Crittenton opens the Florence Night Mission in New York City on April 19, 1883. The “Mother Mission” is dedicated to serving only women and girls.

  • 1893

    Dr. Kate Waller Barrett joins Charles N. Crittenton as the driving force behind the establishment and expansion of the Crittenton social welfare movement.

  • 1898

    A special act of Congress signed by President McKinley grants a national charter to the National Florence Crittenton Mission. This charter is amended in 1903.

  • 1914

    Seventy-eight agencies exist in five countries: United States, Mexico, France, Japan, and China.

  • 1950

    Florence Crittenton Association of America (FCAA) is founded as the professional association for Crittenton agencies.

  • 1976

    FCAA merges with Child Welfare League of America (CWLA). The National Florence Crittenton Mission continues to provide financial support to the Crittenton division of the CWLA.

  • 2006 – 2007

    The National Florence Crittenton Mission adopts a new name, The National Crittenton Foundation, and separates from the CWLA. It’s new home office opens in Portland, OR.

  • 2008

    The National Crittenton Foundation and Crittenton family of agencies return to Washington DC as advocates for girls, young women and their families. 

  • 2010

    Girls @ The Margin Alliance is founded by The National Crittenton Foundation and Rights4Girls. “We Are Not Invisible” launches, bringing the power of young women’s voices to our nation’s capital.

  • 2011

    Launch of the Marginalized Girls Creating Pathways to Opportunities Policy Series in collaboration with Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality and Rights4Girls

  • 2012 – 2014

    18 Crittenton family of agencies members administer the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaire in their agencies.

  • 2013 – 2015

    The Bridging Opportunity, Love, and Determination (BOLD) Initiative, the brainchild of eight Crittenton agency alums, is created.

  • 2013 – 2016

    TNCF Co-Directs the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) National Girls Initiative with the American Institute for Research as content expert on justice reform for girls.

  • 2015 – 2016

    TNCF works in partnership with the Obama Administration’s White House Council on Women and Girls to convene and center the voices and expertise of girls and young women, particularly girls of color, on a range of issues.

  • 2016

    TNCF signs cooperative agreement with OJJDP to lead the National Girls Initiative, providing training and technical assistance on justice reform for girls to states, tribal communities, and girl-supporting organizations.

  • 2017

    Kate and Charles are back! More than 100 years later descendents from both co-founders are on the TNCF board of trustees, Kate Rademacher, great-great-granddaughter of Dr. Kate Waller Barrett and Charles Baldwin, great-great-grandson of Charles N. Crittenton.

  • 2017

    The first In Solidarity We Rise: Healing, Opportunity and Justice for Girls gathering is held in Washington, DC. 

  • 2018

    TNCF becomes National Crittenton with an updated mission of catalyzing social and system change for girls and young women impacted by chronic adversity, violence and injustice.

  • 2018

    The BOLD Society App is launched for smart phones, tablets and the web, creating a virtual support and healing community for young women across the country

Directions for Youth & Families impacts over 6,000 youth and their families each year through mental, emotional and behavioral health services

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