Family Matters of Greater Washington was founded in 1882 by a small group of concerned men and women who wanted to address the growing issue of pauperism in the District of Columbia. Under their leadership the Associated Charities of the District of Columbia was incorporated with seven key objectives:
1. The promotion of efficient and economic cooperation among the charitable societies
and organizations and private and benevolent individuals of the District.
2. The prompt relief of all cases of real destitution.
3. The prevention of imposture in the matter of alms, of street begging and of indiscriminate and
4. The provision of means of obtaining prompt, full and reliable information regarding the condition,
circumstances and needs of every applicant for charity to whom it may concern.
5. The supply, whenever possible, of employment as the basis of relief.
6. The improvement of the condition of the dependent poor, with a view of their self-support.
7. The ascertainment of the real causes of vagrancy and pauperism with a view to their suppression.
As time progressed, Family Matters marked many milestones that impacted life in the Greater Washington area and would forever set the standards for the field of Social Services. In 1901, we were responsible for forming the first local Boys Club. In 1907, we lead the fight in implementing a school attendance law, a child labor law, and the establishment of a Federal Children’s Bureau.
The 1940’s brought a shift in those who needed our help. We discovered that not only the economically dependent needed our services, but also individuals from varying economic and social circumstances. To position ourselves to better serve our clients and integrate services for families and children, we merged with the Children’s Protective Association and the Foster Day Care and Counseling Association to become Family and Child Services of Washington, D.C., Inc.
In 1960’s, we established the city’s first multi-service senior center that offered protective services to the aging population and our first foster home. In 1976, the agency assumed responsibility for the administration of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in Washington under sponsorship of ACTION in which volunteers, age 55 and over, are recruited to work in community settings.
In the 80’s, the organization participated in the formation of a Consortium for Child Welfare with 13 other community agencies in the interest of permanency planning for children in foster care. We also lobbied for State Licensure for Social Workers and Initiated Medical Bills Project in conjunction with Legal Counsel for the Elderly.
The 90’s brought about many new changes with the implementation of several programs designed to serve the needs of our growing client referral population. We established a Family Preservation Program, Elder Care Assist to help seniors stay active and live independently, a Family and Schools Together Program (FAST) to provide counseling services for students attending local elementary and high schools, the Bright Futures Program created to ensure teen mothers held the basic needs to care for their family, and Domestic Family Prevention Programs to address violent and abusive behavior not only among couples, but also against seniors. This era is also when Family Matters of Greater Washington launched two annual fundraisers to support the financial needs of our programs.
In more recent years, we have celebrated many accomplishments such as being named “Outstanding Agency of the Year” by the Consortium for Child Welfare. But although our history is enriched by these milestones, our success is measured by the satisfaction of our clients. Throughout our history, there has been one constant factor that has been the foundation of our work…FAMILY! We have strived to become a premier social service organization that emphasizes People, Programs, and Partnerships and we will continue to help our clients position themselves to have a brighter future for today and tomorrow!