FamiliesFORWARD has a rich, 140-plus-year history in the city of Cincinnati, Hamilton County and the state of Ohio.

The agency, known for many years as "The Children's Protective Service," began in 1875 in Hamilton County. Originally an animal-protection agency named the Ohio Humane Society, it was started because of the concern of Mrs. W.W. Dawson, who was afraid that harm was being done to horses pulling heavily loaded streetcars up Broadway Hill.

The agency began offering protection to both animals and children in 1877. It continued this dual responsibility until 1907, when the Hamilton County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established and assumed responsibility for animals. In 1950, the Humane Society added the title "The Children's Protective Service" to make clear that its responsibility was to protect children from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Our work began as a law-enforcement agency, emphasizing the prosecution and punishment of parents rather than treatment and protection of children. Through our knowledge of the dynamics of human behavior, stressors in families and the physical and emotional needs of parents and children, our approach changed to rehabilitation, treatment and prevention. We were a forerunner in learning how to identify and treat both child abuse and sexual abuse, working in close collaboration with Hamilton Juvenile Court and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

In 1980, we formed a collaborative relationship with the Hamilton County Job & Family Services after an interpretation of a 1963 Ohio law mandated reporting of all suspected child neglect and abuse to the county. In 1991, we began to phase out protective services because of changes in Ohio laws and started a new prevention program, FamiliesFORWARD, that is neighborhood-school based.

Some key dates in our history:

• 1875: The Ohio Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is incorporated.
• 1877: The Society extends its interest to neglected and abused children.
• 1907: The Society's focus shifts to the welfare of children when the separate Hamilton County Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is founded.
• 1915: The Ohio Humane Society is one of the 12 charter agencies to start the Community Chest.
• 1950: The title "The Children's Protective Service" is added to indicate clearly the purpose of the organization.
• 1959: All child-abuse cases admitted to Children's Hospital begin to be referred for investigation.
• 1965: We begin to operate a central index of battered children and share information with local hospitals.
• 1968: The Children's Protective Service helps establish Clermont County Children's Protective Service.
• 1969: Juvenile Court gives temporary custody to Children's Protective Service.
• 1974: The state of Ohio gives the Children's Protective Service the right to remove children.
• 1992: The Children's Protective Service phases out its relationship with the county program.
• 1993: FamiliesFORWARD is designed to provide comprehensive community-based services to families of children attending Hays Elementary School (now Hays-Porter School) in the Lincoln Court area of West End.
• 1999-2009: FamiliesFORWARD is expanded to include Parham Elementary School (which became Hoffman-Parham and now is Evanston Academy) in 1999, Bond Hill Academy in 2000, Withrow High School (now Withrow University High School) in 2002 and Carson School in 2009.
• 2013: Because of declining government financial resources, FamiliesFORWARD ends full after-school programming at Evanston Academy.
• 2017: FamiliesFORWARD adds Woodford Paideia Academy in Kennedy Heights, employing a full-time resource coordinator, then ends resource coordination there in summer 2018.
• 2023: FamiliesFORWARD becomes a division of another nonprofit, Learning Grove Inc., after a merger Jan. 1, 2023.