KidsVoice and The Frick Building both have histories spanning more than 100 years, but it wasn't until 2002, when KidsVoice moved into the Greek Classical tower in downtown Pittsburgh, that their stories truly intertwined. Now, 20 years later to the month, our staff is returning to the office after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

History in the Making

The Frick Building opened in March 1902, at the time towering above the rest of downtown. Named for industrialist Henry Clay Frick, the building’s location across from the County Courthouse soon made it an ideal office location for lawyers and other professional groups with ties to the judicial system.

The building has become a steadfast sight in the commercial district, though it has undergone some changes in its 120-year history. In addition to the annex built next door, one significant change came when the city leveled off the downtown landscape, lowering Grant Street and the land around The Frick Building by about 20 feet. The modern-day foyer was once the building’s basement!

KidsVoice, too, has a long history with some significant changes–though our mission to provide legal services to vulnerable populations in Allegheny County has always remained at the core.

The Legal Aid Society of Pittsburgh was established in 1908, with a mission of serving anyone who could not afford legal representation. It wasn’t until 1983 that its sole mission became to support abused, neglected, and at-risk children. 

In 2001, two important things happened to create the non-profit law firm as it is known today: 

  1. We shifted from a traditional attorney-only advocacy model to a holistic team model, with each child now supported by an attorney and a social service professional. 
  2. We adopted the name KidsVoice.

Frick, A Family Affair

That same year, the hit CBS television show, “The Guardian,” used the historic Frick Building as a backdrop for some of its scenes. For the show’s creator, David Hollander, the location was chosen with care. His father and brother had worked together there. By 2001, though, his brother Scott had already left private practice and joined KidsVoice as its executive director. In fact, the show was based on KidsVoice’s work.

A year later, in 2002, KidsVoice received a dream opportunity: move from their long-time offices in the South Side to The Frick Building.

It is apt that the offices that made such an impact on a single family now makes an impact on families throughout Allegheny County, hosting 76 staff that help represent more than 3,000 children, ages 0 to 21, each year across all five regions of the county as well as assisting former clients to age 24. 

KidsVoice strives to keep families together whenever possible, advocating in the court for family reunification or kinship placement whenever it is safe for the child to do so. Additionally, the recent addition of our two-generation advocacy program expands on our work with older youth who have aged out of the system. The program helps former foster youth who are now parents themselves develop sustainable supports to preserve their young families.

Two and Twenty Years

These long histories meet unexpectedly in March 2022, a coalescence of significant anniversaries.

The Frick Building turned 120 on March 15.

KidsVoice celebrates 20 years in our offices on March 21.

And KidsVoice staff officially returned to their offices on March 10, after two years working remotely.

KidsVoice’s home in the seventh-floor suite closed its doors in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, our education team has expanded to address the increased needs of our school-aged clients, particularly those special education students who fell even further behind during the pandemic. The offices, too, have undergone some changes to accommodate the new staff.

For some employees, the return to the office marked the first time they set foot in The Frick Building and met their colleagues outside of a screen. For others, some of whom were among those who made the move from the South Side 20 years ago, the return was a familiar welcome.

In the combined histories of KidsVoice and The Frick Building, March 2022 may be just one month of many, but it is also a bookmark that will start the next stage of their stories.
 

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