Founded to support parents and families
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. Over the years as needs grew, more centers were founded in areas such as Aurora, DuPage, and Highland Park, Illinois, and the neighborhoods of Englewood, North Lawndale, and Cicero.
Merging with Chicago Child Care Society
Chicago Child Care Society, also known as CCCS, has been serving children and families for over 170 years, making it the oldest social services agency in Illinois. They first opened their doors as the Chicago Orphan’s Asylum in 1849 when children were left homeless after their parents lost their lives to the cholera epidemic. Since then, CCCS has embraced Chicago children through the Great Chicago Fire, the Civil War and both world wars. In 2013, CCCS ended its work in child welfare and shifted to early childhood education programs.
In January of 2021, Chicago Child Care Society merged with Family Focus to join our shared mission to provide early childhood education, youth development, and family support services in under-resourced communities across northeast Illinois. The merger expanded our geographic footprint and continuum of services, allowing us to serve more families and children.
Today, there are 11 Family Focus direct service centers throughout Chicago and NE Illinois providing holistic family support services to 19,000 individuals, including parents and children enrolled in center programming and individuals through outreach, home visits, crisis services, and educational programs.