Who We Are

History and Facts

Our History

The aim is to restore health and re-establish self support. It is not sufficient to say, 'I am doing the best I can'; your best is useless unless it adequately cares for a situation." – Katharine (Kitty) Felton, Founding Director, Associated Charities of San Francisco

  • April 25,1889 Associated Charities of San Francisco is established as the first general, nonsectarian relief organization in San Francisco. The Agency is founded as a collaborative effort to offer a more centralized and coordinated system of public relief. Its home office consisted of two staff members, known as the "Hearst nurse" and the "Crocker nurse," each respectively supported by funds from these prominent San Francisco estates.
  • 1901 Katherine (Kitty) Felton becomes the first Director of Associated Charities of San Francisco. Though only 28 years old, she provides leadership in coordinating the city's varied sources of charity, as well as in establishing standards for charitable giving. Felton's inspiration is, as she puts it, "the power of man's creative intelligence to determine the shape of all outward things and social forms. The life of active goodness freely chosen."
  • 1902-1908 Felton organizes the Charities Endorsement Committee, laying the foundation for all future social work. A collaboration of the Associated Charities and the San Francisco Merchants Association, this Committee is the predecessor to the Chamber of Commerce.
  • 1903 To address the needs of children while avoiding the use of the term "charity," Felton establishes the Children's Agency of San Francisco, a branch of Associated Charities.In response to the tragically high mortality rates for infants in the San Francisco Foundling Asylum, the Children's Agency of San Francisco develops the first foster home system in California. Hailed as a great success, the foster parenting experiment helped San Francisco develop the lowest infant mortality rate of any city of its size in the world. In addition to her other accomplishments in social welfare, Kitty Felton also lobbies into existence a State Board of Charities and Corrections, the forerunner of the State Department of Social Welfare.
  • 1906 After the earthquake and its terrible fire, Associated Charities directs San Francisco's entire Earthquake Relief Program and is temporarily merged with the Red Cross to provide earthquake assistance. Just as the earthquake proves to be a significant dividing line in the history of San Francisco, so too it radically shifts the focus of social welfare in general and Associated Charities in particular, as the Agency's central mission immediately shifts from advocacy to direct services.
  • 1907 In response to the massive local depression brought on by the earthquake and the ensuing fire, Associated Charities sets up an employment bureau, the first of its kind in the United States. In addition to providing employment services for general workers, the bureau finds work for many individuals with disabilities and works to establish rules protecting standard pay for standard work.
  • 1908 Emerging from its affiliation with the Red Cross, Associated Charities is reestablished as a separate agency, with Kitty Felton as its Director. As a natural outgrowth of its leadership in developing a foster-care system, Associated Charities establishes the Department of Unmarried Mothers and Their Babies, leading to the closure of "foundling asylums" and paving the way for improved and well-monitored foster care and adoption services.
  • 1909 Associated Charities advocates for the establishment of well-baby clinics. Expanding its sphere of concern and influence, Associated Charities also advocates for improved standards and practices for child labor, school attendance, industrial accident insurance, mental-health care, adoption, care of the handicapped, minimum wages for women and minors, and health services in public schools.
  • 1922 As the Director of Associated Charities, Felton organizes the Community Chest, a forerunner to the United Way and the United Bay Area Crusade, in San Francisco.
  • 1928 Long hoping to erect a building dedicated specifically to serving the clients of Associated Charities, Kitty Felton oversees a capital campaign to raise funds for an Executive Office building at 1010 Gough Street. The renowned architect Bernard Ralph Maybeck, a friend of Felton's, offers to design the building.
  • 1932 In the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, and in reflection of its increasing role as an agency of social welfare, Associated Charities changes its name to "Citizen's Agency for Social Welfare."
  • 1933 Due to the massive national disaster of the Great Depression, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration requires that all federal and state funds be expended by public agencies only. In compliance, San Francisco creates a County Welfare Department that takes over all family services previously handled by private agencies such as Citizen's Agency for Social Welfare. As a result, the Agency begins operating as a contractor to the government, which it remains today.
  • 1934 The Board of the former Associated Charities is reorganized as the Children's Agency and returns to 1010 Gough Street.
  • 1938 Seeking a name and a structure to reflect her concern for the needs of families, and concerned about the stigma often associated with the word "charity," Felton commissions a study into alternatives to the organization's name, "Associated Charities." As a result of the study, conducted by a special Community Chest Committee, the Family Service Agency of San Francisco is formed. Initially financed by a $25,000 grant from the Rosenberg Foundation, it is approved as an eighteen-month demonstration project.
  • 1939 When, at the conclusion of its eighteen-month demonstration period, the Family Service Agency of San Francisco proves a success, it is incorporated and approved as a member of the Family Service Association of America.
  • August 8, 1940 Kitty Felton, the Founding Director of Associated Charities and one of America's great leaders in social service, dies of cancer at age 67. Nellie Woodward is appointed Executive Director.
  • 1943 The Mother's Aid Program -- a forerunner to TAPP, Family Service Agency of San Francisco's current program for teenage parents -- transfers to the Public Welfare Department.
  • February 1945 The Family Service Agency and the Children's Agency merge, becoming Family and Children's Agency of San Francisco.
  • 1949 In response to the Agency's struggle with an increasing deficit, the Community Chest recommends that a publicly-funded program be organized to care for children. As a result, all of the children's services administered by the Agency are transferred to the Public Welfare Department, which then uses public funds to establish contracts with independent providers such as the Agency.
  • 1950 Clarifying its mission as a family-services provider, Family and Children's Agency discontinues its foster care and adoption program to focus on family counseling, family life education, and family advocacy.
  • 1954 In comprehensive response to years of gradual program shifts determined by changing social philosophies, client needs, and funding realities, Family and Children's Agency undergoes a complete reorganization and becomes primarily a counseling service.
  • 1955 The Agency is awarded the first government contract to train the poor for employment.
  • 1958 During its incorporation process, Family and Children's Agency of San Francisco changes its name to Family Service Agency of San Francisco.
  • 1960 Responding to the nation's economic troubles, Family Service Agency of San Francisco provides leadership in the war on poverty, expanding its services to include job training, preventive programs, counseling, and food banks.
  • 1964 Changing its internal structure to better meet the needs of the community, Family Service Agency of San Francisco increases its emphasis on social action, with staff working to stimulate community participation through door-to-door campaigns to offer services.
  • 1965 The Office of Economic Opportunity selects Family Service Agency of San Francisco to implement a Foster Grandparent Program funded by state and federal funds and providing low-income senior volunteers with training and stipends to give support and attention to children with special needs at sites throughout San Francisco.
  • 1966 Dick Rogers is named Executive Director. In response to changing social dynamics and increasing numbers of working mothers, a Preschool Childcare Center opens at 1010 Gough Street, as an early version of today's Family Developmental Center (FDC).
  • 1971 The California Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Office of Child Development provides funds to develop The Infant Care Program, a project to mainstream special-needs children, as a demonstration project at Saint Lukes Hospital. Increasing the comprehensive services provided directly to children, a Child Care Food Program is begun, serving breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack to at-risk children in the Preschool Childcare Center. Community Aftercare Program, providing mental health services for adults released from mental institutions, is begun.
  • 1974 TALK Line (Telephone Aid in Living with Kids), a 24-hour crisis line for parents, is founded by the Child Abuse Council.
  • 1975 C.E. Rogers is named Executive Director.
  • 1976 TALK Line becomes a program of Family Service Agency of San Francisco.
  • 1977 Further broadening the range of services available at our Preschool Childcare Center (the forerunner to today's Family Development Center), a Developmental Disabilities Case Management Program is begun for children. Golden Gate Regional Center funds a Primary Therapeutic Day Program, providing physical, occupational, and speech therapy to children. Respite Services are offered by the Agency to parents who feel they are in danger of abusing their children.
  • 1978 Ira Okun is named Executive Director.  Tender Lion Family Program, a mental health program for children, is begun for children and families in the Tenderloin,  under his tenure. 1979 As part of its continued expansion to meet the needs of varied populations, Family Service Agency of San Francisco begins several new programs: a Japanese Mental Health Program; a School-Age Infant Development Program to serve infants and teen parents at the Hilltop school; and the Medically Fragile Infant Program, which offers comprehensive child development services to children of low-income families.
  • 1980 To meet the needs of elderly people during the nation's movement toward deinstitutionalization, Family Service Agency of San Francisco begins the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, training volunteers to oversee the care of and advocate for frail elderly people in board-and-care homes.
  • 1981 In response to the increasing numbers of teenage parents, Family Service Agency of San Francisco develops the Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Program (TAPP), a comprehensive case management program for teenage mothers and fathers.
  • 1982 The Army Family Service Program is begun. In coordination with senior housing sites throughout the city, Outpatient Mental Health Services for Seniors is begun.
  • 1983 Navy Family Service Program is begun, providing counseling services to the servicemen and -women based on San Francisco's Treasure Island.??To meet the needs of an emerging and entirely unprecedented population -- individuals with HIV -- Family Service Agency of San Francisco develops a new program, Operation Concern.
  • 1984 To help meet the needs of the frail, homebound elderly while providing a sense of community and value to mobile seniors, the Senior Companion Program is begun, in which mobile seniors lend assistance to their frail and homebound peers. To provide further services to meet the needs of an often neglected population, a program offering Day Treatment Mental Health Services for Seniors is begun.
  • 1985 As HIV/AIDS takes on an increasingly catastrophic role, Operation Concern is taken over by California Pacific Medical Center.
  • 1986 To help address the educational concerns of special-needs children, Children's Mental Health Assessment Program is developed to provide assessments for San Francisco Unified School District Special Education students between 5 and 18 years old.
  • 1988 Expanding its programs to provide neighborhood family support services, the TALK Line is taken under the aegis of the Child Abuse Prevention Center in the Haight. The Child Abuse Prevention Program moves to the Child Abuse Prevention Center in the Haight.
  • 1990 Susan Vandiver is named Executive Director of the Agency, taking over for Ira Okun. After 24 years at 1010 Gough, Family Service Agency of San Francisco's Childcare Center merges with the School-Age Parent and Infant Development Program and the Medically Fragile Infant program to form the Family Developmental Center at 2730 Bryant Street.
  • 1991 Ryan White Mental Health Services for HIV-Positive Persons is begun. FIRST (Family Intervention and Recovery Services Team) Program, a program for substance-abusing parents, is begun.
  • 1992 After nearly a decade, and reflecting the decline of the Navy's presence in the Bay Area, the Navy program is discontinued.
  • 1993 Expanding its services to yet another new section of San Francisco, the Visitacion Valley Family Support Center opens, providing adult and teen vocational and referral services. In partnership with the Department of Human Services, the Family and Children Volunteer Program is begun, assisting families deemed to be at risk for child abuse or neglect.
  • 1994 TALK Line celebrates its twentieth anniversary.
  • 1995 Geriatric Services West, offering mental-health and day-treatment and outpatient services for mentally disabled seniors in western San Francisco, is transferred to Family Service Agency of San Francisco from California Pacific Medical Center. The Family Service Counseling Program is begun. The Foster Grandparent Program celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.
  • 1996 Lonnie Hicks, Chief Financial Officer, is named Executive Director of the Agency. Family Service Agency of San Francisco begins new two programs: an Early Childhood Program offering in-school counseling for at-risk children, and the Victim Restitution Program providing counseling and other services to victims of crime. Family Service Agency of San Francisco modifies its internal organization to align more efficiently with the services it provides. The new divisions include Behavioral Health; Children, Youth and Families; Enterprise; Resource Development and Community Relations; and Senior Services.
  • 1998 The Community Workplace Partnership Training Program, an innovative program utilizing the facilities of both the Department of Human Services and Kaiser Permanente, opens in the Richmond District of San Francisco. In cooperation with the San Francisco County Sheriff's Department, the Eviction Assistance Program is established.
  • 2000 The building at 6221 Geary Street is purchased for $3.6 million, to secure permanent facilities for the Geriatric Services West Programs and the Richmond Senior Central.
  • 2002 Charles M. Collins is named Acting Executive Director of the Agency.
  • 2003 Charles M. Collins is named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Agency. Charles Ward becomes Vice President for Institutional Advancement, and Resa Peay-Wainwright becomes Vice President for Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness.
  • 2004 Robert W. Bennett is named President and Chief Executive Officer, after the resignation of Charles M. Collins. Albert C. Gilbert III is named Chief Financial Officer. To align more efficiently with the services it provides, FSA is reorganized into four service divisions: Adult Services; Family Developmental Center; Children, Youth & Families; and Senior Services.
  • 2007 With public and private support, FSA initiates a new array of innovative intensive treatment programs: the Moving Ahead Program for Youth, the Senior Peer Recovery Center, the Comprehensive Adult Recovery and Engagement Program, the Senior Full Service Wellness Program, the Back on Track Program for Transition Aged Youth, and the Young Family Resource Center
  • 2008 PREP, a program of prevention and early intervention for youth on the brink of psychosis, is offered to the community through a partnership with UCSF. The new therapies offer, for the first time, the possibility of remission of mental illness when caught at the early stage.  The program is given the International Gap Founder’s Award.
  • 2009 The Full Circle Family Program is begun in the Children Youth and Family Division, taking over for the Tenderloin program. FCFP takes a family systems approach, working with children in the con­stellation of their caregivers, family and broader sup­port systems.  FCFP applies a rigorous strength-based cul­turally competent approach to address the issues within the family.

1978 Ira Okun is named Executive Director.  Tender Lion Family Program, a mental health program for children, is begun for children and families in the Tenderloin,  under his tenure.

Our Mission

FSA's mission is to respond to human needs with cutting edge social services and treatment that combine the best social science research with cultural sensitivity, a deep respect for the consumer, and a commitment to social justice and supportive communities.

We strive to promote healthy families and communities, provide safe and nurturing environments for children, support individual growth and well-being, and improve the quality of life for all San Franciscans.