In 1981, the Atlanta Junior League responded to an overwhelming need to aid abused and neglected children by collaborating with the Menninger Foundation to establish an independent CHARLEE (Children Have All Rights - Legal, Educational, Emotional) program as a demonstration project for the metropolitan Atlanta area. Originally known as Georgia CHARLEE, Inc., the agency began with three therapeutic group homes to serve children, ages 6 to 17, with emotional and behavioral problems, due primarily to severe abuse and neglect. The agency's name was changed to CHRIS (Children Have Rights in Society) Homes, Inc. in 1992, when it became a totally independent, Georgia-based program.
A member of the Child Welfare League of America, CHRIS Homes was named "Outstanding Agency of the Year" by the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children (GAHSC) in 1998 and was awarded a Certificate of Accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children. Also in 1998, CHRIS Homes received the "Managing for Excellence Award" from The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. Most recently CHRIS Homes won the "Valuing Diversity Award" from the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta on June 7, 2000.
The CHRIS mission is to "break the cycle of abuse...beginning with children." To achieve this mission, CHRIS Homes operates nine therapeutic group homes, two independent living programs and several programs that assist children and families in their own communities. The CHRIS therapeutic group homes provide mental health treatment and support for troubled children, ages 6 - 17, and their families. CHRIS homes are located in residential neighborhoods in Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton, Douglas, and Clayton counties. Children go to neighborhood schools, participate in sports, take music or dance lessons, and join in community activities. CHRIS families contain six children and function much like normal families, teaching children how a healthy family works while providing tutoring and counseling.
The CHRIS Independent Living Program (ILP) was established in 1986 to help youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, ages 17 to 21, make a successful transition to responsible, independent adulthood. Established in January 2000, the CHRIS Rainbow Home (ILP) offers similar program services to homeless youth, ages 17 to 21. Program services are designed to provide a safe supportive environment for sexual minority youth. Both independent living programs help young adults make the transition to self-sufficiency. Living in a home with 24-hour staff supervision or in apartments, residents learn independent living skills, pursue educational/job-related opportunities and practice responsible behaviors.
Recognizing the need to provide a flexible array of services able to meet the full spectrum of needs of troubled children and families, in 1996 CHRIS began in-home counseling and wraparound support services. CHRIS Keeping Families Together Prevention and Aftercare Programs work to strengthen families and provide safe homes in which children can flourish. Behavior aides work with children one-on-one as "special friends" in school, at home and in the community. Camp CHRIS provides a "no eject" day camp for at-risk children that allows parents to maintain their employment over the summer and their children to attain success. Community programs focus on family strengths and helping children with behavior problems, truancy, and/or involvement in the juvenile justice system succeed.
From 1998 through 2000, CHRIS Homes operated an Assessment Center for children, ages 4 -12, as one of five statewide First Placement/Best Placement pilot sites for the State Department of Family and Children Services. The pilot was successful and First Placement/Best Placement assessments were incorporated in the State Plan, changing the need for the Center. CHRIS Homes continues as a First Placement/Best Placement partner providing Child and Family Assessments in the metro area.
CHRIS Homes is proud to work in partnership to meet needs with the Department of Family and Children Services, the juvenile justice system, mental health and other child welfare organizations.