For more than 100 years, our agency has embodied itself in our mission to serve those living in Madison County. The timeline below touches on some key moments in our history of caring.
A group of civic-minded individuals create a family oriented agency named Alton Public (Welfare) Council with a mission to help impoverished mothers care for their own children, and provide care to people in their homes.
Alton Visiting Nurse Association (which began in 1917) merged with our organization as a result of struggles for both to raise money. The two organizations formed Associated Charities.
With the onset of the depression, staff from Associated Charities were "loaned" to the Illinois Emergency Relief Commission. The agency set up a warehouse to distribute clothes, shoes, and blankets to area families. Near the end of the depression, in 1936, staff returned to Associated Charities and resumed visiting nurse and visits to mothers of newborn children.
We changed our name to Family Service and Visiting Nurse Association to more accurately reflect services given.
We began providing counseling to adolescents and their families under contract with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
We became the grantee for the federal kindergarten readiness program called Head Start. It originally served 8 communities and 380 families. It now serves all Madison County, Illinois communities and 1,000 families.
We became a United Way member agency to provide mental health services on a sliding-fee scale.
We began a federal comprehensive child development program that expanded our kindergarten readiness services to birth to three year-olds and expectant parents.
We re-directed our focus from healthcare to child development, family strengthening and counseling services. We won a state contract that expanded our kindergarten readiness services to birth to three year-olds and expectant parents. We sold the VNA and transferred primary healthcare programs to another area non-profit.
We changed our name to Riverbend Head Start & Family Services to better reflect our focus.
We sharpened our focus on early childhood education and became a single purpose agency offering only Head Start programming. And once again, we expanded our kindergarten readiness services to birth to three year-olds and expectant parents through a federal grant opportunity.
In order to deepen its impact, the agency expanded duration of preschool services offered in nearly one half of its classrooms providing preschool five days per week for at least six hours per day through blending Head Start and Illinois State Board of Education funds.