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Organizational History
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Where we have been and how we got here...

Cook County Department of Family and Children Services


The Cook County Board of Public Welfare held its first meeting in the welfare office June 21, 1937. The Welfare Department was opened with one employee, Ms Alice Sineath, appointed Cook County Welfare Director June 21, 1937. She remained employeed with Cook County Welfare until June 17, 1939. Two employees were secured July 2, 1937. These two employees included a stenographer and a field worker.

Three employees opened the office in 1937. There were only four employees at Cook County DFCS January 10, 1956. In 1993, the staff had increased to twenty-six employees. During fiscal year 2000, the Cook County Department of Family and Children Services consisted of thirty-eight employees and one volunteer. In the past, employees had to visit people's homes and count hogs, chickens, cows, and the money in their pocket. Today the application process has been modified and is not nearly as time consuming.

Mrs. W.D. Parrish replaced Ms. Alice Sineath as Cook County Welfare Director June 6, 1939. Ms. Parrish served as Director until November 30, 1957. On December 1, 1957, Ms. Emily Goodman preceded Ms. Virgina Bennett who assumed Director of Cook County Department of Family and Children Service July 16, 1959. On August 1, 1993, Ms. Jo-Ann Blair was hired as Director and presently remains in this position.


MS. Jo-Ann Blair

As recorded in minutes of July 14, 1937, twenty-three cases for old age were approved. Six cases with dependent children were approved. One case for the blind was approved. Cook County Economic Support Services served two-thousand, six hundred and seven approved cases during fiscal year 2000. In 1959, the budget was $40,000 for four programs compared to the current budget of over $12,000,000 for the four programs offered by Economic Support Services.

In 1959, there were about five reported cases of child abuse and neglect a year in Cook County compared to three-hundred, forty-four reported cases of child abuse and neglect during fiscal year 2000. Adult Protective Services recorded twenty-two reported cases of adult abuse and neglect in Cook County in 2000. There was one foster home in 1959 compared to 16 today. Homemaker Services assisted six households per month on average in 2000.


The original office was located behind the courthouse on 211 North Parrish Avenue in the Courthouse Annex. Due to a desperate need for more office space, the DFCS Services unit was temporarily housed on the third floor of the Sowega building in Adel for approximately one year. A new contemporary building was built in 1996. The present office is located next to Cook County Ford on Highway 41 in Adel.


The SOWEGA Building


The New DFCS Building