Catholic Charities began as a formal social service agency in 1926 to offer relief and rehabilitation to Catholic families. The agency directed much of its early assistance toward families suffering through the Great Depression and drought, which had devastated the area.
In the 1940s, Catholic Charities merged with Catholic Child Welfare Services and Family Counseling Services. During the 1950s and 1960s, the organization continued to offer family and children's services while its staff grew larger and more professional.
In the 1960s, the agency evolved from a traditional social work organization to a more aggressive outreach program with more diverse staffing. Personnel consisted of social workers, sociologists, psychologists, nurses, priests, religious, and laity. Late in 1969, the organization changed its name to United Catholic Social Services (UCSS) to reflect this increasing professionalism.
During the 1970s, traditional services such as adoption, pregnancy counseling, family and individual counseling continued to be offered. Counseling sites were established at Columbus and Norfolk. Educational and community services were enlarged. St. Martin de Porres Center was completed in 1979, and today serves as the hub of activity for many programs serving low-income individuals.
Extensive efforts to help individuals and families suffering from chemical dependency also began in the 1970s. Outpatient Chemical Dependency Services started operating in 1972. St. Gabriel's Regional Center for Substance Abuse opened in 1979. In 1998 St. Gabriel's moved to the beautiful Omaha Campus for Hope.
Other social programs were launched during this period. The Shelter, which is a 26-bed residential program for abused women and children, started operating in 1978. Christus House opened in 1981 and offered a transitional living facility and a halfway house for adolescents.
The 1990s brought many new changes for the organization. In 1991, the Agency and Catholic Hispanic Ministries jointly opened the Juan Diego Center in south Omaha to provide assistance to the Latino community. In early 1995, the agency changed its name from UCSS back to its original title of "Catholic Charities." Catholic Charities opened Family Passages in 1996, a HUD funded transitional living program for homeless families who are victims of domestic violence.
The late 1990s and early 2000s saw the opening of three collaborations, the Latina Resource Center, Interfaith Immigration Services of Nebraska and Journeys. The Latina Resource Center provides Hispanic women with services such as English as a second language, health and family-life education, counseling and aid with job preparation. Interfaith Immigration Services provides immigration legal services in English, Spanish and Sudanese languages to people of lower incomes.
Today, Catholic Charities is headquartered at the Sheehan Center in the Benson area of Omaha. The agency provides its services to individuals and families in need of assistance regardless of race, religion, creed, or socioeconomic status. Over 100,000 individuals were reached through the many programs of Catholic Charities.