The history of Family and Children’s Services (FCS) is intertwined with the evolution of Baltimore from a major port city to a thriving metropolis with pockets of poverty and great need. FCS began in 1849 when Mayor Elijah Stansbury of Baltimore called together a group of prominent businessmen to establish the Association For The Improvement Of The Condition Of The Poor, AICP, to explore how to help struggling families make the transition from an agrarian to industrial society. The history of FCS is full of examples of timely response to changing or
emerging needs as our predecessor agencies have been key contributors to the development of the social supports necessary for a community to thrive:
1860: Henry Watson Children’s Aid was established to provide foster homes for children abandoned or abused by the parents and to advocate for child protection laws. It was the work of the board of this organization that led to the passage of the first child welfare laws just after the turn of the century.
1881: The Baltimore Charity Organization Society. Perhaps the most well-known and historically important predecessor agency established by Daniel Coit Gilman, the president of Johns Hopkins University, who believed that COS could do a better job of helping poor families by using medical students to gather social histories. His first employee was Mary Richmond, who although she had no background in social welfare, developed a keen interest in understanding
why some families were successful in responding to a changing society when others were not. She wrote extensively about her observations, and today is credited with being the founder of modern social work because of her casework approach to working with families. Mary Richmond went on to run COS’s in Philadelphia and New York.
1881: The Electric Sewing Machine Society was established to teach women how to make a living through use of sewing machines.
1910: AICP and COS merged creating The Federated Charities of Baltimore which essentially was the social welfare organization of the city funded with grants from the city. The spirit and interest of Mary Richmond continued to drive the work of this organization which sought to gain better insight into how to move families to self-sufficiency.
1919: The Federated Charities changed its name to the Family Welfare Association.
1942: Family and Children’s Society formed by the merger of the Family Welfare Association and Henry Watson Children’s Aid. The organization provided three major services: casework which eventually became counseling, adoption/foster care, and respite for infirm mothers which soon became services to the elderly. These services formed the foundation on which this modern private voluntary organization built itself.
1985: Family and Children’s Society merged with Maryland Children and Family Services to create Family and Children’s Services of Central Maryland which provided services to Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard Counties through eighteen programs in fourteen locations. FCS added The Family Life Center of Columbia, the local mental health agency started by Jim and Libby Rouse, to its roster.
2011: FCS Board of Directors adopts a three year strategic plan. The goals are to optimize capacity, outreach and resources to best meet the ever-changing needs in our communities while strengthening our programs and the infrastructure that supports them.