In 1976, Bernice Weissbourd knew that parents needed a place for support. With funding from her husband, Bernard Weissbourd, and Chicago business tycoon, Irving Harris, Family Focus opened in a room at the Miller School in Evanston. Former Evanston Alderman Delores Holmes joined Bernice as the first center director, and together with support of a staff consisting of mostly volunteers, Family Focus became a drop-in center for parents with young children to gather. Word quickly got out about a woman who was opening a place for parents to seek support, and more than 80 other agencies and organizations from across the country sent representatives to witness the family support movement in action.
With the popularity of Family Focus growing, Family Focus Woodlawn opened in 1977, followed shortly by Family Focus Lincoln Park in 1978.
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 all over the Chicagoland area. For more than 40 years, Family Focus has been providing much needed family support services under the family support model.
Today, there are seven Family Focus direct service centers throughout Greater Chicago providing holistic family support services to 17,000 individuals, including parents and children enrolled in center programming and individuals through outreach, home visits, crisis services and educational programs.