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Family Service Association (FSA) of Greater Elgin Area has served the area since 1931, when the agency was started during the depression as a result of the need in the community for an organization to help meet the financial pressures of the times. It was first known as Associated Charities but after a few months the name was changed to Family Welfare Association. As the name suggests, its functions were to offer direct aid to alleviate the family stresses related to financial hardship. The purpose, as stated in its constitution, was, “Wherever possible, to restore disadvantaged families to social self-sufficiency and a normal life, by means of careful planning and the carrying out of such plans, which may involve relief, employment, medical care, education and the solution of family difficulties of all kinds whether due to internal or external causes.” Funds were received from the city, county, state, and federal governments as well as from the Community Chest. During the year, from October of 1932 to October of 1933, 2,040 families were helped and almost $213,000 was disbursed.
With changing economic conditions, the advent of Social Security, and the development of various programs of state, federal and local aid, the role of Family Welfare Association in providing direct financial assistance diminished. By 1936, disbursements had decreased to $2,000 per year. Total disbursements for the month of August, 1936, of $49.50 included $1 for relief, the rest being office expense and salaries.
In the forties, the agency operated an unemployment bureau and a social service department, which mainly did investigations for other agencies, such as the Township Supervisor's office, the public schools, and the probation office. It also dispensed orders for shoes through the Courier-News shoe fund, and served as a clearinghouse for Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets. A few individual cases were assisted with financial and medical problems.
In 1957, Dr. Leland Brubaker was hired as Executive Director. Thereafter, the emphasis on the provision of professional counseling services to families and individuals increased and has become the primary focus of the agency.
In 1963, the name of the agency was changed to Family Service Association to reflect the fact that service rather than welfare was now the agency's function.
Dr. Brubaker moved to California in l964 after several years as director.
Don Taylor became director. The agency’s annual budget was $16,000.
The agency moved to new offices on the fifth floor of the Professional Building. Branch office in Hanover Township is opened
The agency's annual budget increased to $30,000.
The staff consisted of two full-time counselors, including the director, and four part-time counselors.
The agency's annual budget increased to $64,000.
The name of the agency is changed once again, to Family Service Association of Greater Elgin Area, since our service area includes the townships of Elgin, Hanover, Plato and Burlington.
The Youth Counseling Program is initiated. In 1976 a Senior Services Program was added. This program includes counseling for seniors either in their homes or in the office, friendly visiting in area nursing homes, and information and referral services to assist seniors in getting hooked up with other community resources.
Mark Nelson became the agency director. Under his leadership, the next 30 years was a period of dramatic growth.
At the urging of United Way of Elgin, its Financial Counseling and Debt Management Program was launched. Later the agency expanded through the addition of the Dundee-Carpentersville area, previously served by Family Service of Dundee Township.
FSA is awarded a grant from the Illinois Department of Mental Health to offer Screening Assessment and Support Services (SASS) to severely emotionally disturbed children/adolescents and their families. The agencies proposal was one of twelve funded from over eighty proposals from other agencies across the state.
The Older Adult Services, the Youth and Family Counseling Program and the Adult Counseling Program were brought together under one program name, now known as Therapy Services.
The agency added the Family Support Service.
Mark Nelson retired in June of 2001 and Lisa La Forge was appointed the Executive Director in July of 2001.
In October of 2001, the agency began providing mental health services to children housed in the Kane County Juvenile Detention Facility on Geneva.
The agency budget in fiscal year 2004 was approximately $1,700,000 and the professional staff included forty-four full-time and part-time staff.
The agency is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, Inc. The agency is a member of the National Foundation for Consumer Credit Counseling and the Elgin, Cardunal and Streamwood Chambers of Commerce.
FSA and Greater Elgin Family Care Center (a Federally Qualified Health Center) were awarded a planning grant for School Based Mental Health Services through the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation. With this grant services were planned to begin in four U-46 schools: Elgin High, Larkin High, Ellis Middle and Abbott Middle. Those services began in October of 2010. The program had a rocky start. In 2012, the difficult decision was made to have FSA be the sole provider of these services. At that time, it helped reduce staff turnover and the program stabilized. Outcomes were impressive.
In 2013, after much deliberation, The Governing Board of Family Service Association had to make the hard decision to end Consumer Credit Counseling services. Fortunately, Consumer Credit Counseling of Northern Illinois decided to pick up the service area and continues to provide this service in Elgin.
In 2016, Ms. LaForge applied for another grant through the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation for $600,000 which was awarded over the years of 2017 and 2018. This allowed FSA to provide services in 19 schools throughout Districts U-46 and 300.
Lisa LaForge unexpectedly died on June 29, 2017. Bernadette May was appointed the Executive Director on September 27, 2017.
The agency has an annual budget of $2,300,000 with 63 full and part-time employees. In FY17, the agency provided 16,433 hours of service to 2,058 unduplicated individuals.