In 1949, Governor Alfred E. Driscoll, in accordance with Joint Resolution #4 of the 173rd Legislative Session of New Jersey, appointed a Temporary Committee to Study the Problems of Chronic Illness. Two years later, the study had been completed and the chairman designated, four members, two physicians and two laywomen, Mrs. Asher Yaguda and Mrs. Frank Fobert, to draft the committee’s report. A homemaker project recommendation was placed in the report draft and, with the approval of the total Committee, remained in the final report to the Governor and Legislature.
As a result of the work of this Committee, the Prevention of Chronic Illness Act was enacted in April 1952, the Prevention of Chronic Illness Act (Section 26: 1A-94) “established within the Department of Health. The Division with the responsibility to “plan for the provision of an adequate visiting nurse and housekeeping aid services was charged by appropriate Public or Private agencies throughout the State, to the end that the nursing and medical care being furnished the chronic sick in their own homes shall be improved in every manner possible.”
In order to carry out this mandate of the law, the Advisory Council on the Chronic Sick voted to endorse the adoption of Homemaker Service on a State-wide basis as a function of the Division of Chronic Illness Control of the State Department of Health. Dr. Daniel Bergsma, then State Commissioner of Health immediately appointed a State Consultant Committee on Community Homemaker Service with Mrs. Asher Yaguda as Chairman. The first meeting of this ten-member volunteer committee was held on February 2 1953 in the offices of the Division of Chronic Illness Control of the New Jersey State Department of Health.
In the fall of 1950, a homemaker service specifically designed to meet the needs of long-term patients was begun in Essex County under the sponsorship of the Essex County Medical Society, and it became the model for other agencies. It followed naturally that the State Consultant Committee should turn to the Essex County group as a pattern for other agencies.
By 1954, four new homemaker agencies in Summit, Middlesex, Passaic, and Central Union Counties were providing service. A standardized training course given under the aegis of the Extension Service of Rutgers, The State University, was in full operation. It was held upon request in local communities with costs underwritten by the State Department of Health. The course content had been compiled by the staff of the Division of Chronic Illness Control, members of the Extension Service of Rutgers-The State University, the State Consultant Committee on Community Homemaker Service, and professional consultants.
The Certificate of Incorporation for Passaic County Homemaker Service was signed on September 27, 1954. On December 15, 1954, The Passaic County Homemaker Service, Inc., a non-profit, voluntary agency servicing Passaic County under the sponsorship of the Passaic County Medical Society, opened its doors for business. This was made possible by a $500 grant from the Woman’s Auxiliary. This grant was for “running expenses”. A room was also donated in the Medial Society building for an office. The office was staffed by volunteers 9 to 1, Monday through Friday. They were busy keeping files in order, scheduling homemakers, setting up classes, paying bills, and keeping accounts straight. The first President was Dr. Jack Warburton. The first training class was held in May of 1955. It trained the first 5 aides who were kept “very busy until another class could be arranged.”
In May of 1961, the Agency changed its name to Visiting Homemaker Service of Passaic County and has done business as HomeCare Options shortly thereafter.
Due to the fine work of the organization, the need for the service in the community, and the dedication of its Board and staff, HomeCare Options has grown to provide services to thousands of people each year.