On September 26, 1912, 13 women gathered at the home of Mrs. Otto Hitchcock to discuss the pressing need to find a home for an infant found abandoned at Union Station. The women formed a board of directors, and over the next two weeks, they rented a house at 947 West 7th Street and hired a nurse and house mother to staff the facility.
Erie Infants Home and Hospital was born. The women’s objective was to “provide a temporary home or hospital for needy infants from birth to two years of age.” At the time, there was no other organization of its kind in the area.
Within the first year of operation, more than 80 babies received care at “The Home.” Erie Infants Home and Hospital was incorporated in 1913, and the board purchased a house on East 26th Street in 1916. To meet the growing demand for its services, the agency constructed a new building at 226 East 27th Street in 1927. This building still serves as EHCA’s main facility today.
During wartime and periods of economic hardship, an influx of babies and a shortage of staff prompted board members to step in to help care for the children.
In 1945, the Child Care Technician (CCT) program was initiated to train and maintain qualified staff. CCT continued to be a vital and respected vocational program in Erie through 1980 when it joined forces with Erie County Vo-Tech School.
By the 1950s, board members saw the need to re-evaluate the mission of the organization. State institutions for children with disabilities were unable to meet the demand for services, and families struggled to care for their loved ones at home. To address the local need, Erie Infants Home and Hospital expanded its charter to care for mentally challenged children awaiting admission to Polk State School and Hospital.
The agency’s commitment to helping each person reach his/her greatest potential was an emerging concept in human services in the early 1970s. To achieve that goal, staff members began providing educational experiences for each resident. Along with this new focus, in 1972, the agency changed its name to Erie Infants Home.
The purchase of two group homes in the 1980s was the harbinger of the agency’s concentration on providing more home-like settings. By 1983, another name change was needed. Erie Infants and Youth Home more fully described the residents the agency served — the infants were growing up.
Rapid growth and change in the 1990s made it apparent that the agency had again outgrown its name. The current name, Erie Homes for Children and Adults, Inc. (EHCA), reflects the range of individuals served by the agency, as well as the expanded services provided in the community.
The progressive spirit of EHCA’s founders continues into EHCA’s 110th year. Every day, the agency offers programs in three Pennsylvania counties and provides support to over 400 individuals and their families through its 20 community homes and variety of community-based programs.
EHCA currently employs over 550 people with 100 employees having 10 (+) years of service at the agency. Today, the agency’s vision reaches out to three counties in northwest Pennsylvania and affirms that each person with a disability should have the opportunity to live a life full of hope, promise and care. For more information, visit www.ehca.com