Southwest Youth and Family Services was first founded as the Southwest Youth Service Bureau Policy Board in 1979, as part of a citywide program to provide neighborhood-based diversion services in West Seattle and White Center. They were incorporated on September 9, 1980.
As the program offerings changed, the community came to know them as the Bureau. Their mission became serving all low-income youth in the neighborhood. They developed a number of innovative youth-run employment programs. They remained primarily employment-based until 1985 when they expanded programs to provide education and individual and family counseling services.
Their Education Program was created in cooperation with the Interagency Transition School, and initially served Seattle Public School students. Their Education Center Program, designed to serve drop-out students, started in 1986.
They became a United Way member agency in 1986.
Their Counseling Program expanded in 1987 to include two in-house counselors and one drop-out prevention counselor at Madison Middle School. The program’s focus shifted to include both young people and their families. In 1988, the Drop-Out Program was expanded to Denny Middle School. The number of full-time in-house counseling staff also increased. In February 1998, they were granted State Community Mental Health Organization licensure.
In 1989, the Education Clinic in High Point was launched, and they started work as part of the Seattle Team for Youth gang-intervention project. In recognition of their changing mission to serve both youth and families, they formally changed their name to Southwest Youth and Family Services in the spring of 1990.
With the passage of the Families and Education Levy in 1991, SWYFS expanded dramatically. In 1992, three new programs serving hundreds of youth and families were added, and SWYFS doubled in size. They opened the Southwest Family Center, one of the three original family centers in Seattle, which worked in collaboration with other organizations to offer programs designed to strengthen and encourage positive community and family support systems. Parenting programs, community celebrations, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, education opportunities of all kinds, and Family Nights for youth and parents evolved out of their participant-driven process.
The Iraqi Community Center became part of SWYFS in 2001. This expanded immigrant and refugee advocacy and support to speakers of Arabic, Cambodian, English, Spanish and Somali. In 2003, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the SW Family Center grant of $225,000 over three years to support and expand work with immigrant and refugee communities.
In 2006, SWYFS was chosen as one of three organizations in Seattle to offer the Parent Child Home Program (PCHP), an early learning home visiting literacy program serving very low income two and three year olds and their parent or care giver.
SWYFS currently has a staff of approximately 75 partnering with youth and families to transform their futures. They are actively planning to continue expanding their services across the area in the months and years to come.
The communities and the people that they work with have always guided their mission and are the reason they love what they do.
Their mission is to partner with youth and families to transform their futures.
Where is Southwest Youth and Family Services (SWYFS)