Founded in 1976, Family Support Services (FSS) is a nonprofit social services organization whose mission is to strengthen families in our community through education, encouraging lifelong growth in the family dynamic. Our presence impacts families in both Philadelphia and Delaware County, offering a unique array of early intervention (EI) and child welfare services, school-based child care, and 2 preschools. We have always believed that supporting families during their early years makes the best use of resources and produces the biggest impact for children today and tomorrow. In FY2014, FSS touched the lives of 7,000 individuals through our five divisions from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, while also serving the parents of these children in a myriad of ways.
Our goal is to strengthen a family by providing the services necessary to enhance their capacity to learn and grow in all areas. Our programs accomplish this in 4 specific ways: 1) enhancing a parent’s capacity to nurture their children by learning parenting skills, child development and appropriate disciplinary techniques, thus preventing child abuse and neglect; 2) enhancing a child’s capacity to learn and achieve educational and life success with specialized educational services for significant developmental challenges and/or trauma; 3) enabling a parent to earn a living while being secure in knowing that their child is learning in a safe before & after school program; 4)providing a nurturing preschool environment as well as kindergarten enrichment program, laying the foundation for a successful life of learning.
FSS was founded by members of the Junior League of Philadelphia, a women’s volunteer community service and leadership training organization concerned with the growing problem of child abuse. Together, this group of 20 women wanted to publicly address the common occurrence of child abuse and neglect while combatting future incidents through education. From this vision, FSS’ Family School was born. The agency’s flagship program, Family School was defined as serving families with children identified as “at risk” of or struggling with abuse, neglect, or delays in development. Today, FSS works to satisfy this same goal through comprehensive services for the community, including a parenting education program.
In 1982, the agency expanded its programming with a suburban fee-for-service School-Based Child Care and Kindergarten Enrichment Program. These programs are mission-specific, revenue-producing programs which help support our services for urban, low-income families. Today, these programs serve over 1,000 suburban school children and host two summer camps, offering a fantastic education and providing much needed support to the agency.
At it’s inception, FSS provided comprehensive early intervention services to Family School children with developmental delays; including: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and special education. After witnessing the obvious benefits of these services, the number of children affected by developmental delays, and the devastating effects of these delays if not treated, these services were expanded in 1994 to create the Early Intervention Division. This division includes a parenting education component, and offers services in community locations as well as in our own center based program for developmentally delayed children ages 0-5.
In 2010, FSS opened the Chestnut Street EI and Preschool Program which offers quality and developmentally appropriate preschool and childcare services to typically developing children and to children with developmental delays. FSS offers additional child welfare programming to support families with young children through In-Home Protective Services (IHPS), Family Empowerment Services, and the Parenting Collaborative.
FSS supports and assists parents by providing physical, emotional and educational services for the entire family. The organization works to improve parenting skills, teach child development and enhance families’ ability to love, care for, and safely raise their children. Supported by over 200 staff and a board of directors with 17 members, FSS has grown into an organization with the logistical and programmatic expertise to address the critical nature of abuse, neglect and cognitive challenges in Philadelphia. FSS is unique in that it offers early intervention and child welfare services as well as a preschool and school-based programming with an overarching goal to empower and support families, enhance parental capacity, eliminate child neglect and abuse through education and prepare children and families to succeed.