Family Services, as it exists today, was formed by the merger of three smaller Montgomery County-based nonprofit organizations: Family Service Association of Pottstown, the Lower Montgomery Family Service Society, and Family Service of the Main Line. The earliest of these organizations was founded in 1900 by concerned citizens who wanted to help individuals and families who were experiencing difficulties in everyday living. Throughout our 111-year history, Family Services’ programs and services have evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of the community.
At the turn of the century the local Kings Daughters provided services to neglected children, working girls and others in need. They felt that Pottstown needed an organization for “rehabilitating families and individuals who are, or who are liable to become dependent, and for undertaking the removal of any preventable causes of misery and dependence.” The Kings Daughters sponsored the Associated Charities and gave $100 a year toward its support. Early records indicate the agency was meeting family and individual needs involving such problems as mental retardation, rehabilitation, marital discord, and neglected children.
In the 1930’s the agency became the center for relief giving in the area and continued in this role until offices and staff were established to administer public assistance. Following the trend at the time, the name of the agency was changed to Family Welfare Society.
In 1952, following a survey of agencies in Pottstown, the board of the Family Welfare Society recommended the agency change its purpose to meet the changing needs and, in 1954, the board decided to become a counseling agency with trained staff. In 1955 the name of the agency was changed to Family Service of Pottstown.
In January 1966, Family Service of Pottstown was merged into a new countywide agency, Family Service of Montgomery County, PA.
The Federation of Christian Churches of Bryn Mawr and Vicinity was started in January 1911 by the Haverford Meeting of Friends. A survey was conducted to determine whether the Friends were “rendering such spiritual and social service as they should to their neighbors.” As a result of the survey, five churches joined together to “express Christian neighborliness and to bring the churches and other organizations of the vicinity into united service…particularly through this social service to foster the development of wholesome family life and to help families in adverse circumstances to achieve normal life.”
In 1916-1917, a number of outlying churches and lay organizations applied for membership and the name was changed to The Main Line Federation of Churches. The organization was incorporated on February 25, 1927.
The Depression changed the character of the Federation almost overnight from a steadily growing private welfare agency to a channel for disbursing public and private relief funds. From 1931-1933 the Federation was one of four agencies distributing relief and raising private funds through the Main Line Emergency Committee.
By October 1933 relief funds were no longer distributed by private agencies. However, the Federation continued to privately distribute relief on a scale comparable to the public sector.
In the 1950’s the Federation continued to expand membership and to examine its mission and role in the community. In 1955 the agency’s name was changed to Community Family Service. In 1957 Family Services merged with the Wayne Neighborhood League. Finally, Family Services became know as Family Service of the Main Line Neighborhood. During this period Family Services continued to explore affiliation and partnerships with many organizations in an attempt to better serve the greater Main Line area.
In 1972, yielding to the trend in the suburban Philadelphia area, Family Service of the Main Line Neighborhood merged with Family Service of Montgomery County, PA as an important part of a countywide human service agency.
Lower Montgomery County (Abington/Jenkintown/Lansdale)
The Lower Montgomery Family Service Society was originally part of the Family Division of the Old York Road Public Health Center. At the height of the Depression, the Center employed nine social workers as well as a director.
The name of the organization underwent a number of changes. The original name, Old York Road Public Health Center, was changed in 1940 to York Road Family Service and Health Center to give more emphasis to the family service functions. By the end of 1943, the nursing service and family division split into two separate agencies. The nurses assumed the name Old York Road Health and Nursing Service and the family division, staff by social workers, was called Lower Montgomery Family Service Society.
Regional Consolidation and Coordination of Services
In 1963 at the prompting of the regional planning body, the Health and Welfare Council, Inc., discussions were initiated between four agencies (Lower Montgomery County Family Service Society; Family Service of Pottstown; Children’s Aid Society of Montgomery County’s Family Counseling Service in Norristown; and Family Service of the Main Line Neighborhood) to explore a possible merger into a countywide Family Service agency. The reasons given for the merger were the need for regional coordination of social services by county, reduction of administrative costs and reduction of duplication of services. After nearly three years of deliberation between representatives of each agency and with consultation provided by Family Service America, three of the agencies agreed to merge.
In 1966 Family Service of Montgomery County, PA was born. Eventually, in 1972, Family Service of the Main Line Neighborhood also agreed to merge, completing the consolidation of Family Service agencies within Montgomery County.