Founded in 1978, Pathways was among the first private organizations in California to receive Federal, State and local government funding to initiate innovative and proactive programs for children with special needs.
The agency was founded as Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) by a group of colleagues working in the Los Angeles Unified School District. They created the organization with the fervent belief that decisions for the benefit of children and their families could be better made through a small nonprofit agency than through a large bureaucracy.
With a staff of nine full and part-time employees, led by founding Director Bea Gold, CYFS became operational in October of 1978 with two programs supported by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services. These programs - The Resource and Access Project (RAP) and the Handicapped Children's Consultant Project - provided training and technical assistance to teachers in Head Start programs who were working with children with disabilities.
In 1979, the agency began its first original special needs project, Pasadena Area Special Infants and Toddlers (PASIT). Beginning as a model demonstration project for very young children with disabilities and their families, the program expanded to new locations, and grew to include training for child care providers caring for children with disabilities. The name of the program was changed to Parents and Special Infants and Toddlers to reflect its new scope.
In the 1980's, the agency added the Child Care Resource and Referral (R&R) program, which helps families find and choose child care that meets their particular needs, and provides training, technical assistance and resources for child care providers. The agency also began providing early intervention services to the Los Angeles Unified School District's preschool programs. Both of these programs continue today. In 1988, the Board of Directors changed the agency name to Child and Family Services (CFS).
During the 1990's, CFS further expanded its services with programs designed to help low-income families pay for their child care while they work or go to school. These programs include the State-sponsored Child Care Subsidy program, as well as child care services for CalWORKS, the new public assistance program in Los Angeles County.
The agency also entered into a partnership with the City of West Hollywood and the Los Angeles County Office of Education to provide a full-day, full-year early childhood education program for low-income families at the West Hollywood Preschool.
In addition to these programs, CFS operated Head Start programs in Glendale and West Hollywood, as well as developing, operating and providing consultation on employer-sponsored child care programs for companies including Paramount Studios and Great Western Bank. The agency also produced award-winning films including "In The Middle" and "Just A Kid Like Me", which are distributed to parents and child care providers throughout the country.
In 2003, as the agency celebrated 25 years of service to children and families, the Board of Directors created a new strategic plan for the organization, and re-named the agency Pathways. In keeping with a renewed commitment to services for children with special needs, Pathways' first new program was the Special Needs Advisory Project (SNAP), a county-wide initiative to increase opportunity for children with special needs to have a place in quality early care and education programs.
Today, Pathways remains a leader in the field of child development, Early Intervention, and the provision of family support services. The agency now has a staff of more than 100 professionals dedicated to serving the needs of young children and those who love and care for children.