Forestdale’s foster care services are part of an evolving tradition of activism and innovation in child welfare. Our roots extend to nineteenth-century Brooklyn, where in 1854 a group of church women founded the Brooklyn Industrial School Association and Home for Destitute Children. The goal of the Industrial School was to teach poor children basic trade skills and, with regard to girls, to help them to “support themselves in the safety of family life and to escape the temptations of the shop and factory.” By 1880 the organization ran five separate schools in neighborhoods including Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg and “Jackson’s Hollow,” near today’s Bedford-Stuyvesant.
In the late 19th century, shifting immigration patterns and the emergence of the public school system lead to the closing of the Industrial Schools. The organization changed its name to the Brooklyn Home for Children, and focused exclusively on providing residential care for abused and/or abandoned youth.
In 1941 the Brooklyn Home for Children was bequeathed a parcel of land in Forest Hills, Queens to construct a five-building residential campus. That same year, the agency launched its foster boarding home program. During the second half of the 20th century, more and more orphanages closed their doors as community-based foster homes became the norm. In 1980 the agency retired its residential program to focus on foster care and adoption, and eight years later it officially changed its name to Forestdale, Inc.
Today Forestdale is the only child welfare agency headquartered in Queens, with a mission to serve as a resource for all families in the borough. In addition to ensuring the well-being of abused and neglected children through foster care and adoption services, we partner with schools, religious organizations, business owners and other community leaders to address the underlying causes of families in crisis. Our three-acre campus includes open fields, a basketball court and a brand new playground where families and children can connect in a fun and peaceful setting. Every program at Forestdale is designed to strengthen families and ultimately reduce the need for foster care.