The concept of caring for children by strengthening and supporting their families – was championed by Chicago’s Bernice Weissbourd, a leading scholar in the field of early 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 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. 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 seven Family Focus direct service centers throughout Greater Chicago. Last year, we provided 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.