Blanche Frank Ittleson’s pioneering work in treating and teaching mentally challenged and emotionally disturbed children opened new possibilities for struggling children and their families. Ittleson trained as a kindergarten teacher, but after giving birth to a mentally challenged son, she studied social work at Washington University’s School of Social Economics. She moved to New York in 1915 and in 1919 created the Vocational Adjustment Bureau for Girls, which tested young women for mental and emotional problems and offered treatment and vocational training as well as employment. At a time when treatment was rare and usually involved institutionalization, this was revolutionary. The bureau continued its work until it was absorbed by other agencies in 1950. In 1932 Ittleson and her husband founded the Ittleson Foundation, which focused on funding health, welfare, and public education for the mentally challenged. In 1953 she also created the Henry Ittleson Center for Child Research, which offers treatment and special education for autistic or emotionally disturbed children. Two years later she also funded a chair in child psychiatry at Washington University’s School of Medicine. She remained active in social work and philanthropy into her nineties.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blanche Frank Ittleson." (Viewed on May 14, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/ittleson-blanche>.