Our Mission and History - JFCS of Greater Philadelphia

Our Mission and History

Committed to our mission. Proud of our history.

Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia has a unique and vital mission: to strengthen families and individuals across generations and cultures to achieve stability, independence and community.


We work to fulfill that mission by adhering to the key principles of:

  • Living our Jewish values
  • Serving all people, including the most vulnerable in our community
  • Acting with respect and compassion
  • Embracing diversity and inclusion
  • Being transparent and accountable
  • Emphasizing excellence in everything we do, in order to be a leading and relevant provider of family services


In 1983 the Association for Jewish Children (AJC) and Jewish Family Service (JFS) merged to become today’s Jewish Family and Children’s Service.

AJC can trace its roots to 1855, when Rebecca Gratz founded its predecessor agency, the Jewish Foster Home–the first institution in the country to care for indigent and destitute Jewish children. The Home merged with several Jewish children’s service organizations and the Association for Jewish Children was formed in 1941.

JFS began in 1869 as United Hebrew Charities, and was established to provide food, clothing, fuel, medical attendance and other aid to those in need. By 1920, the agency had evolved from a largely volunteer organization to a professional organization with trained social workers. By 1948, when the agency became Jewish Family Service of Philadelphia, its services included counseling, homemaker services, services for older persons, a volunteer program, and Jewish family life education.

Since both AJC and JFS were serving children and families, the two organizations merged to become JFCS, one comprehensive agency serving individuals, children and seniors through all phases of the life cycle.