Family Services is a private, non-sectarian, non-profit family service agency that provides social services to Erie and Crawford County families, and in some cases, to families in Warren and Venango counties.
In January 1882, three judges, three clergymen and two leaders from the community met in the Erie Music Hall at 1001 State Street and agreed to take the necessary steps to establish a charitable, non-sectarian organization. The concept of this organization was “to systemize and bring into harmonious cooperation the charity and almsgiving of the City of Erie.” This organization would serve to detect unworthy applicants for assistance and to help the poor become self-sufficient. On February 4, 1882, the Charity Organization Society was incorporated. This organization was later referred to as Bureau of Charities Society of Erie. This agency was established before most State-run welfare agencies existed.
In 1933, the Family Service Society ceased active operation. Staff and equipment went to the State Emergency Relief Board, which stepped in to take over monitoring and serving the needs of the community during the depression.
In 1936, with a grant from the Junior League, the agency was reorganized as the Child-Parent Bureau to provide services to neglected children. In 1938, the new organization expanded. Renamed the Welfare Bureau of Erie, it maintained three departments, the Child-Parent Department, the Traveler’s Aid Department and the Legal Aid Department. The agency was first accredited in 1942 as a member agency of Family Service America (now Families International). At that time it was also a member of the Child Welfare league of America. It was incorporated in 1941 as Family and Child Service of Erie. Legal Aid and Traveler’s Aid Services were discontinued in the 1970’s. During the years following, the Agency’s primary focus was on adoption.
The agency in its current form is the result of an agreement reached in March 1983. The agreement was created to merge Family Service Association (the former Family Counseling Services organization begun in 1975), Big Brother/Big Sister of Erie County (begun in 1971 through the efforts of the Jaycees), and Family and Child Services of Erie county. The agency became known as Family Services to reflect a new multi-service agency. The respective agency Boards of Directors agreed to merge those services then being provided by the agencies to provide a nucleus for a single family service agency with major funding support by the United Way of Erie County.
In June 1984, and additional merger agreement was reached with Marriage Counseling Services of Erie for them to become a division of the Agency.
In 1987, a satellite office was established in Crawford County. The original services were Consumer Credit Counseling and in-home family therapy. We changed the name of Family Services to Family Services of Northwestern Pennsylvania to reflect our geographical expansion. In 1993, Family Preservation Services was added. In 1995, Family Services of Crawford County was incorporated and a separate Board of Directors came into existence. Community Abuse Response Team (CART) was added to the menu of services in 1996. In 1997, Family Services became a separate agency and merged with Bethesda Children’s Home.
In 2001, Crawford County Human Services asked us for a RFP for Family Based Mental Health, CART, Family Preservation, and Brief Services.
A corporate Board of Directors is responsible for establishing and approving agency policies and programs. Additional support is obtained from the advisory boards created for the programs of Mother-to-Mother, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Families First Council.
The professional and administrative management of the Agency is the responsibility of the President and Chief Executive Officer who holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work. The Agency employs staff trained in social work and related fields of counseling with and emphasis being placed on training and experience in working with families.
Family Services is accredited by the Council on accreditation for Services to Families and Children and the National foundation for Consumer Credit. We are a member agency of Families International, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, the United Way of Erie county, The United Way of Western Crawford County, Inc., the United Fund of Corry and our Adoption and Family Based Mental Health programs are licensed by the Department of Public Welfare.