Family Support -- the concept of caring for children by strengthening and supporting their families – was conceived of by Chicago’s Bernice Weissbourd, a leading scholar in the field of child development. Working with colleagues at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service in the 1970's, Ms. Weissbourd became convinced that family support was an idea whose time had come and took the lead.
Family Focus was born in 1976 when Ms. Weissbourd and her mostly volunteer staff opened a small drop-in center for parents with young children in a room at Miller School in Evanston. More than 80 other agencies and organizations from across the country sent representatives to witness family support in action at this new center. Through her work with Family Focus, Ms. Weissbourd is credited with directing national attention on the critical first three years of life and the need to provide support for young children and their families. Under Ms. Weissbourd’s guidance, Family Focus grew quickly, opening new centers and developing new programs in response to community needs.
Today, there are 7 Family Focus direct service centers throughout Greater Chicago where we provide holistic family support services to about 20,000 individuals annually, including parents and children enrolled in center programming and individuals through outreach, short-term, and crisis services.