HISTORY OF THE FOUNDATION
Creation of the Youth Horizons Foundation
Name changed to the Batshaw Youth and Family Centres Foundation
Integration of the Ville Marie Foundation into the Batshaw Centres Foundation
BATSHAW CENTRES' HISTORICAL CONTEXT
WHO IS MANNY BATSHAW ?
Manuel Gilman Batshaw (1914-2016) was born in Montreal in 1915 to Russian parents who moved to Canada in 1903. Manny was the youngest of 4 children. Manny’s oldest brother, Harry, became the first Jewish Superior Court Judge. Manny soon made his own mark as a soft-spoken and highly determined leader in the field of Social Welfare.
Manny graduated from McGill in 1937 and served in the army as District Social Service Officer. He quickly rose through the ranks to become captain. In 1940 he married Rachel Lewitt, a fellow social worker. They had a child together, Mark, who has distinguished himself in the field of pediatric care and child development.
From 1968 to 1980 Manny held the prestigious post of Executive Director of the Federation AJCS which in 1992 changed its name to the Federation CJA of today. A highpoint of this period, which in child welfare circles was to become known as the “Batshaw era”, was the preparation, in 1975, by Manny and his team of the “Batshaw Committee Report’’. This ground-breaking report, through its innovative analysis and conclusions, was to change the way people viewed children with problems and the way children in care were treated.
For instance, the Batshaw Report led to a change whereby a child not be placed in an institution when foster care would be more appropriate. It created more humane environments and emphasized opening institutions up to the family and community. Taken together the Batshaw Report ushered in an era where the needs of the child were given more priority, setting aside the old “one institution fits all” model.
One of the committee recommendations at that time was that regional authorities be created to look after children and youth in difficulty. A change to the Health and Social Services Act in 1992 acted on this. In every region in Québec the child serving institutions were put under the authority of one board.
In Montréal two such groupings were created, one to serve francophones, the other to serve the English-speaking community. This is how in 1992, Ville Marie Social Services Centre, Shawbridge Youth Centres , Youth Horizons and Mount St. Patrick Youth Centre became the Batshaw Youth and Family Centres. The new organization also received the mandate to serve the Jewish community. The choice of name was obvious: who else to name this new entity after than Manny Batshaw the man who inspired these changes.
In 1990, after the death of Rachel Batshaw, Manny married his second wife, Ruth Schleien, a long-time volunteer of the Federation CJA. Together, they established in 2006 the annual “Ruth and Manny Batshaw Award of Excellence” which recognizes a Batshaw Centres employee who has demonstrated excellence in his or her accomplishments.
Manny has been honoured with numerous tributes and awards over the years including (and in no particular order) The Samuel Bronfman Medal for Outstanding Community Service, the Jerusalem Foundation of Canada’s Honoree, President of the Montreal branch of the National Association of Social Workers, Honorary Executive Vice-President of Federation CJA, named Hattan Torah by the Shaar Hashomayim Congregation in Montreal, the Order of Quebec as well as the Order of Canada and an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by McGill University.
Manny was honored on September 23, 2013 by Batshaw Youth and Family Centres and Foundation for a generous donation he made, which is primarily used for research.
Based in part on the biography “Manny Batshaw: Architect of a community” by Joel Yanofsky published in 1999.