Family Advocates was developed by two Region IV foster families, Mr. and Mrs. Glen Hogin and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Murphy. Both families had provided shelter home and long-term foster care for over twenty-five children. As foster parents, they provided unique foster care services in that they encouraged natural parent contact for the benefit of the child and advocated for supportive services for the parents. They believed that many of the children referred to them would be better served in their own homes with supportive, voluntary home visitor services.
The program they developed, Family Advocates, was incorporated in Boise on September 28, 1978. In 1979, the Junior League of Boise adopted it as a special project. In October, Family Advocates received a federal grant under the Child Abuse and Neglect Grant Program to implement a parent aide program. In 1984, the parent aide program became an Ada County United Way agency.
In 1995, the Families First program changed from para-professional to professional workers offering quality services on a constant basis to high-risk families. In 1998, the Families First program was awarded a grant from the Albertson's Foundation to implement the Parents as Teachers Program, a research-based model which provides information to increase a parent's knowledge of child development and ways to stimulate learning. Up until 2010 Family Advocates received an annual federal grant to increase home visiting services in Ada County and the region. When the funding to all states was discontinued in 2010 the board and leadership decided to return to their volunteer roots to continue offering home visiting services to families.
The CASA program began late in 1980, when the Junior League, the Boise Bar Association and Family Advocates received permission from the Honorable Richard Grant, Juvenile Magistrate, to initiate a pilot Guardian ad Litem program in Ada County, with the stipulation that volunteer legal counsel be included in test cases. In 1982, the CASA program officially accepted its first child protection referral and in 1988, United Way awarded a grant to the CASA program. In 1986, Family Advocates, including attorney Eric Haff, took an active role in working with legislators to revise the Child Protection Act to clearly define the role of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), making the GAL a party to the legal action and gaining approval for state funding. During the 1991 Legislative session, the state CASA Association worked with key legislators to approve a statewide funding allocation.
In 2013 Family Advocates expanded their leadership role in CASA services through the merger of the 3rd and 4th Judicial District CASA programs. An office is staffed in Caldwell serving Canyon, Owyhee, Payette, Gem, Washington and Adams counties, while the office in Boise serves Ada, Boise, and Valley and Elmore counties.
Also in 2013, Family Advocates took on two new programs; BabySteps and Parents Anonymous. BabySteps has 12 years of success in Ada County as a program of St. Michael's and serves hundreds of new and expectant mothers and their families with support and education. This unique incentive program brings women together twice each week with experts from the community who teach classes on health, early learning, infant care, parenting and family life. The Parents Anonymous program is an evidence-based parent support group. Weekly meetings include a family style meal and age-specific children's programming. Families come to Parents Anonymous to get and give support for parenting.