Founded in 1892, the Johannesburg Children's Home is the oldest charitable institution in the city. It was founded by a committee of women formed under the chairmanship of Mrs. von Brandis, wife of the Landdrost [magistrate]. Since the aim was to help any and every child in distress, it was decided that the home would be entirely 'undenominational'. The original home in Fordsburg was established with the proceeds from a Fancy Fair (£4779) and costs for the upkeep of the home were met by weekly street collections.

Today the JCH, now based in Observatory, provides a safe refuge for up to 64 children of all races. Aged from 3 to 18 years, these children have suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse, severe neglect or abandonment. Some are Aids orphans and/or are HIV positive. All have been found in need of care by the Children's Court. They start a new life at the JCH, living with trained childcare workers in a cottage system that was introduced in 1985 to create a more personal and less institutionalised environment.