Family Support -- the concept of caring for children by strengthening and supporting their families -- was born and raised in Chicago under the loving care and brilliant guidance of its creator, Bernice Weissbourd, a leading scholar in the field of child development.
2011 marks the 35th anniversary of the year Bernice put her insights about family support into action, bringing new hope and possibility to children, their families, and the communities where they live.
Working with a small group of colleagues at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service in the 1970's, Bernice realized that family support was an idea whose time had come. She then took the lead in putting this concept into action.
In 1976, Bernice 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 – and Family Focus was born. 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, Bernice is credited with focusing national attention on the critical first three years of life and the need to provide support for young children and their families.
Under Bernice’s guidance, Family Focus grew quickly, opening new centers and developing new programs in response to community need. Today, there are eight Family Focus direct service centers throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area. Our centers are located in the Chicago neighborhoods of Englewood, Hermosa and Lawndale and the nearby communities of Aurora, Bensenville, Cicero, Evanston and Highland Park, with outreach services which extend into surrounding communities.
Family Focus helps participants build confidence in their own abilities, enabling them to overcome challenges, raise healthy children, succeed in school and fully participate in the life of their community. All services are available to all and most are offered free of charge.
In fiscal year 2010, Family Focus provided holistic family support services to over 37,000 individuals, including 20,000 parents and children enrolled in center programming and an additional 17,000 people helped through outreach, short term, and crisis services.
We provide afterschool programming in 40 area schools and collaborate with many community agencies and health care providers to offer participants access to a full range of services.
From a single parent drop-in support program in Evanston, our services have expanded again and again, providing support that makes a difference in the lives of the children, families and communities we serve.
Today, Family Focus offers a wide range of programming, addressing the unique needs of parents with young children, pregnant and parenting teens, grandparents raising grandchildren, estranged fathers, families exposed to violence, immigrant families, and children and teens in school.
Our family support programming provides the life systems that every family deserves, while promoting self-reliance, advocacy, and community participation.
For a full list of programs and services, click here.