Family Strengthening Centers are the first point of contact for individuals, families, and parishes when they seek assistance from Catholic Social Services. Seven such centers are located throughout the five-county metropolitan area. Each provides intake and assessment for individuals and families to assist them in accessing benefits and services. Emergency assistance includes clothing cupboards and food pantries, rent or utility bill assistance, housing referrals, and case management. Adults benefit from employment training, ESL classes, GED preparation, and job placement assistance.
After-school programs provide a nutritious snack, help with homework, recreational activities, and service learning opportunities. Programs for teens encourage an abstinence approach to pregnancy prevention, and promote self-esteem and leadership development. Pregnancy and parenting support are offered through a baby cupboard, cooking and other life skills training, parenting classes and peer support groups. A Pregnancy Hotline assists those confronting crisis pregnancies, and post-abortion counseling and support are also available. Services to seniors include weekday programs offering nutritious lunches and social and recreational activities, and support and assistance to isolated, homebound elderly. Immigrants benefit from translation services, legal counsel, and referral to other services in the community.
Some centers are licensed as community behavioral health care providers, and offer counseling for post-traumatic stress, post-partum depression, and a host of other behavioral issues. Classes in conflict resolution, anger management, and bereavement support are available. Most of these services are entirely funded by the annual Catholic Charities Appeal and would not be possible without the long-standing tradition of charitable giving in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
City of Philadelphia
The Northeast Philadelphia Family Strengthening Center is located at 7340 Jackson Street, Philadelphia PA. This center offers the full range of core services. A specialized service in the Northeast Office is the service to women who are incarcerated in the Philadelphia Women’s House of Correction. The program provides parenting education to women who are pregnant and incarcerated. Before and After School programs are offered on site and in neighboring parishes, servicing approximately 70 children each day. A variety of youth and parenting groups are offered. The school-based social work/outreach services at Little Flower and Bishop McDevitt Catholic High Schools are programs of the Northeast office. St. Bernard’s parish also runs a small senior program at the Center serving 25 clients daily with educational, health and nutrition programs.
All core services with the exception of counseling are provided at these Family Service Centers. The Southwest Family Service Center serves children each day in an after-school program, and also offers parenting education and pregnancy programs, and recreational programs for older adults.
Casa del Carmen
Casa del Carmen was founded in 1954 to serve the growing number of Latino immigrants settling in North Philadelphia. Services have expanded to meet the changing composition and needs of the city’s Latinos and other immigrant communities. Casa offers counseling and family support services with bi-lingual therapists and case managers, summer camp programs, and after-school academic enrichment and recreational opportunities for local youth. Casa’s Day Care Center provides low-income households with affordable child care in a safe and caring educational environment.
The Chester County Service Center is located at St. Agnes Parish in West Chester, PA. The full range of core services is available at the West Chester location. A partnership with Chester County Human Services has resulted in the development of an information and referral center at St. Cecilia Parish in Coatesville. This office has also employed a bilingual worker to provide services to a growing Spanish-speaking community.
The Delaware County Service Center is located at 130 E.7th Street, Chester, PA. The full range of core services is available including services to the Latino population through bi-lingual staff. The Family Service Center in Chester has contracts through which services are provided to the community. These contracts are with the Office of Adult Services/Delaware County, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The programs funded focus on persons with AIDS who are in need of housing and programs to provide counseling and case management services to homeless individuals and families.
The Montgomery County Service Center is located at 353 E. Johnson Highway, Norristown, PA. The full range of core services is available at the Norristown location. Educational and social support groups for the elderly are offered on site.