Family Services was founded in February of 1983 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to open Tulare County’s first emergency shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence. They opened a Battered Women’s Shelter in July of the same year. The founders, led by dedicated volunteers Carol Enns and Nita Mathews, called the organization Family Services because they wanted to see it to grow from a grassroots domestic violence shelter to a multi-service organization that could meet the broader needs of families in our Tulare County community.
The founders’ vision has become a reality, thanks in large part to longtime Executive Director Karen Cooper, who served from 1990 until she passed away in 2011. Under Karen’s leadership, the organization diversified and expanded to include several other programs, including the Rape Crisis Center, In-Home Parenting, Supervised Visitation, the Children’s Counseling Center, and Supportive Housing. In 2012, Family Services was honored to formally name its emergency domestic violence shelter Karen’s House in Karen Cooper’s memory.
Under the leadership of Caity Meader, who served as the Executive Director from 2012-2022, Family Services grew and evolved, guided by the mission to help children, adults, and families heal from violence and thrive in healthy relationships. Most recently, Family Services increased its capacity to provide legal representation to victims of violence and has expanded its work to include comprehensive services for victims of human trafficking and for youth at risk for commercial sexual exploitation. We continue to partner with other organizations and agencies in our community to look for ways to help build physical and emotional safety in homes, in relationships, and for children—for a safer community where everyone can thrive.
You are invited to help write the next pages in Family Services’ history book. Learn more about our programs and services. Read stories about some of the individuals and families we’ve helped here in Tulare County. Volunteer with us, make a donation, or get connected to stay in the loop. The work we do is hard, but it’s rewarding—and it’s critical to the future of our community. Join us!