Our History

Our History

When a small group of women dedicated to caring for orphaned children opened the Rochester Orphan Asylum in 1837, never could they have imagined that their founding efforts would grow to serve thousands of families and children each year through more than 100 programs throughout New York State and Prince George’s County, MD.

Almost two centuries later, Hillside Family of Agencies stands as one of the country’s largest non-profit human service organizations, successfully adapting to an ever-changing environment to meet the needs, and help improve the lives of the most vulnerable children, youth, and families through a nationally recognized, integrated system of care that provides comprehensive behavioral, mental, and education services.

It is through our pioneering legacy, a culture built on compassion and driven by research, and the sustainable success of our evidence-based programs that Hillside remains a leader in both the community and our field, developing innovative services and strategic partnerships that are breaking cycles of poverty by healing those in need and changing lives.


What is known today as the Hillside Family of Agencies began in 1837 as the Rochester Female Association for the Relief of Orphans and Destitute Children. The association members—who included the wives of many influential Rochester businessmen and church leaders—were dedicated to caring for the city’s orphans.


If you are looking for information about relatives who lived at Hillside prior to the 1960s, that information is housed by the University of Rochester Library system. Use the link below to connect with the reference librarians at the University of Rochester to help in your search.