History of Astor Services for Children & Families

instruction c. 1960Astor Services for Children & Families — originally the Astor Home for Boys and later the Astor Home for Children — was established in 1953 in response to an initiative of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene to create children’s residential treatment programs that would reduce the need for psychiatric hospitalization of children.

The Astor Home For Children

Its first home — now the agency’s administrative offices and its residential treatment center — was located in Rhinebeck, NY on property donated by Vincent Astor to the Archdiocese of New York. At its inception, The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul assumed administrative responsibility for the agency. Later, administration of the Astor agency passed to a staff of committed and innovative professionals who are responsible for the wide range of services and programs which today constitute Astor Services for Children & Families.

Growth of Community-based Services

Early years at AstorIn 1966, Astor opened its first outpatient mental health clinic in Rhinebeck, the first of what would become a wide range of community-based behavioral health treatment programs intended to make it possible for emotionally disturbed youngsters to receive quality treatment and case management services while continuing to live at home and attend school in their communities.


The 1950’s and 60’s marked the inception of Astor’s training programs in social work, child psychology and psychiatry. The 1960’s also marked the beginning of Astor’s expansion into the Bronx and the opening of the first of Astor’s group homes, among many milestones.

Astor baseball team c.1955In 1974, Astor was one of the first mental health facilities for children in the country to receive accreditation by the Joint Commission. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards. Astor has been accredited for over 40 years!

Early Childhood Programs

Astor assumed responsibility for Head Start Programs in Dutchess County in 1978. This early childhood development component was enhanced in 1985 with the initiation of Astor’s Maternity and Early Childhood Outreach Program. The later program provided the prototype for the agency’s Head Start Parent and Child Centers developed in 1991 to serve the special needs of infants, toddlers and their parents. Through its Astor Early Childhood Program, the agency continues its leadership in early childhood education today.

The Astor Learning Center

blue ribbon school of excellenceChildren who are in residence at the agency’s treatment programs in Rhinebeck, NY, are enrolled in the special education program operated by the Astor Learning Center, which was incorporated in 1980 as a state approved private school for children with emotional problems. In 1988, 1994 and in 2001, The Astor Learning Center was designated as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.

Astor Today

Astor — proudly sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York, whose values are deeply rooted in the Catholic faith and whose service delivery reaches all faiths — today serves a region stretching from Dutchess County, through the Hudson Valley, and into the Bronx, NY, serving over 10,000 children.

Astor has grown and continues to grow in response to the evolving needs of our communities. Now much more than a residential Home for Children, Astor’s services are available through Astor’s Child Guidance Clinics, Astor Counseling Centers, Astor Early Childhood Programs, Day Treatment Programs, Home-based Crisis Intervention, school-based services and preventive services.

Services For Children & Families

To reflect the wide range of services that Astor offers today and its commitment to helping children and their entire families, Astor officially changed its name in 2009 to become “Astor Services for Children & Families”. Come and grow with us as we continue to expand on the vital work begun at Astor, as we enter our 65th year.

For more detailed information, see also:
Astor Time Line