Photo | Courtesy of Family Services, Inc.

Nonprofit of the Week: Family Services, Inc. (PHOTOS)

The year was 1908. The need: reduce suffering in the community.

Photo | Courtesy of Family Services, Inc.

Photo | Courtesy of Family Services, Inc.

More than 100 years later, Family Services, Inc. (FSI) is still working towards the same goal. This organization, located in Gaithersburg, has served over 22,000 individuals and families a year through a combined budget of $22 million through distinguished programs on mental health, substance abuse, early childhood, victim and domestic violence services, among others.

“Our goal is to create an environment that promotes independence, support, and strength while focusing on improving the quality of life for each individual and family we serve throughout our communities,” Claudia Rios-Phelps, special assistant to the CEO on Emerging Community Needs at Family Services, Inc., wrote in an email to MyMCMedia.

According to Rios-Phelps, in 2014 FSI provided services through more than 30 programs while employing 400 people from 50 different countries who speak 42 languages.

“FSI programs not only address suffering caused by mental or physical illness, poverty, lack of education, or victimization, but address the root causes as well. These days we would say that the programs address the ‘social determinants of health.’ Those are the many factors that contribute to physical and mental well-being that are not directly related to medical care, but to all the other things in life that affect the health of individuals,” Rios-Phelps wrote.

Rio-Phelps added the biggest challenge they encounter is finding bilingual staff for our mental health clinic.

“We are always in need of psychiatrist and counselors that can serve our clients in their own language. This scarcity is one of the reasons we are the fiscal agent for The Welcome Back Pilot Program for Behavioral Health, part of The Welcome Back Center of Suburban Maryland. The program is an employer-driven strategy to create a pipeline of experienced, culturally and linguistically competent workers for local behavioral health employers,” she wrote.

Rios-Phelps shared that in a county where 32 percent of residents are foreign-born, 39 percent speak a language other than English at home; there is a strong need for employees that can represent a diverse workplace.

“To support this need, the pilot program will train and support 25 internationally trained health professionals living or working in Maryland in ‘stepping stone’ jobs to enter or advance their career in the behavioral health field. These workers will help to fill in-demand positions with five Strategic Industry Partner (SIP) employers, including Family Services, Inc.,” she wrote.

Rios-Phelps added they “are here to stay” and will continue their work to end suffering and empower individuals and families.

“We are a truly diverse organization, not only serving the Latino community, but all people of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. We constantly seek out collaborations and partnerships. We do this in order to strive for the highest level of service and adaptation to the ever-changing environment our community,” she wrote.

Aline Barros

About Aline Barros

Aline Barros is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at and on Twitter at @AlineBarros2.


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