CAHS began in 1910, during the Progressive Era of unrest and reform. Immigration and labor unions were growing. Child labor was common and less than ten percent graduated from high school. Women were striving for the right to vote.
Our original name was the Connecticut State Conference on Charities and Corrections, and our goal was to:
Promote a more accurate knowledge of and a wider interest in charitable, reformatory, and preventative work, and to provide an opportunity for persons interested in such efforts to compare and discuss principles, methods and results.
For 77 years, the place where those principles, methods and results were compared and discussed was the Human Services Conference.
Among topics discussed were public health, children, public charities, families and neighborhoods, “defectives and lawbreakers”.
In 1931 we changed our name to the Connecticut Conference on Social Work.
Other significant dates in our history:
1945 we were incorporated
1954 we moved our offices from New Haven to Hartford
1962 we changed our name to the Connecticut Social Welfare Conference
More than just names were changing. Members were growing dissatisfied with the Conference’s passive role as a forum for discussing the social issues. They wanted action.
In 1973 the Board of Directors formulated a mission statement that turned the organization in the direction of research, education, and advocacy.
In 1974 the Conference was reorganized and renamed the Connecticut Association for Human Services. We obtained grants from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and the Bydale Foundation, hired an executive director, administrative assistant, and conference coordinator, and embarked on a program of research and advocacy on a broad range of human service issues. CAHS organized and staffed the Human Services Coalition, which grew to more than two dozen social service, labor, religious and public interest groups. The Coalition worked closely with representatives of the private sector and soon became a force to be reckoned with at the State Capitol.
CAHS continues to be a vital part of lawmaking and regulation-making in Connecticut, as well as an organization that brings to the public thoughtful analyses of the issues at hand.
The CAHS of today is a far cry from the Connecticut Conference on Charities and Correction of 1910. But CAHS’s goal has remained constant and was well expressed at its first conference in 1910.
“We must see…that no one shall be hungry, or naked, or without shelter, but it is of higher importance than that to see that no one grows to manhood or womanhood unable to earn food and clothing and shelter for himself or herself; so shall the burden grow lighter,” said Trinity College President Flavel S. Luther, a speaker at the conference.