The Puerto Rican Family Institute's mission is to enhance the functioning and self-sufficiency of diverse marginalized communities and prevent family disintegration. PRFI is a not-for-profit, multi-program, family-oriented health and human services agency that provides culturally sensitive services to children, youth, adults and families, and respects all individuals' clinical, cultural and personal identities.



In 1960 the Puerto Rican Family Institute was established as a volunteer effort by a group of twenty Puerto Rican social workers. Led by Agustin Gonzalez, they shared a dream: to establish a service program to prevent the disintegration of Puerto Rican migrant families who lived in New York City. The Institute was incorporated in 1962 as an anti-poverty program.

In 1964 their vision became a reality with a demonstration grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity which established the "Program to Preserve the Integration of the Puerto Rican Migrant Family." The Institute became one of the first citywide agencies to start serving the Puerto Rican community. During this period, paths were forged to broaden service delivery to other Hispanic groups.


During the 1960s and ?70s, the Institute established a series of innovative programs dedicated to preserve Hispanic migrant and immigrant families by reducing the risk of child placement, and shortening the length of stay in foster care.

Self-help, parenting skills, supportive casework and advocacy, prevention of child abuse, and crisis intervention services were essential parts of an array of services provided by a bilingual staff.

Mental health treatment services were added to promote the emotional well-being of families and to respond to the growing need for mental health services in the Hispanic community.

The national movement to foster independent living for developmentally disabled individuals and New York State's Willowbrook Consent Decree provided the Institute with an opportunity: a chance to build new pathways to serve this segment of the population through the establishment of intermediate care residences in the Bronx.

During those early years, the Institute also played an important role in developing professional training for Puerto Rican and Hispanic college students who wanted to pursue a graduate degree in social work.

  • 1962 - Program to Preserve the Integration of the Puerto Rican Migrant Family.
  • 1971 - Implementation of 5-year Federal Demonstration Project for the Recruitment and Training of Puerto Rican/Hispanic Social Workers.
  • 1973 - Establishment of the Manhattan Child Placement Prevention Program and the Placement Prevention Program for Juveniles.
  • 1973 - Establishment of the Bronx Mental Health Clinic.
  • 1973 - Establishment of the Addiction Prevention Program in East Harlem.
  • 1973 - Implementation of the Homemakers Service Demonstration Project in partnership with the Association of Homemaker Service, Inc. and The National Puerto Rican Forum.
  • 1975 - Program to Serve the Return Migrant - Office established in Puerto Rico with a grant from the Puerto Rican Legislature and private funds from the Puerto Rican Family Institute.
  • 1975 - Inauguration of Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled in The Bronx.
  • 1977 - Establishment of the Manhattan Mental Health Clinic.
  • 1977 - The Institute moved into the early education field and opened its first federally funded Head Start program, a program of excellence… serving underserved children in Brooklyn. Originally opened to serve Latino children, the program now serves Asian. Jewish, Polish, Puerto Rican, Central American, and African-American children.


The 1980s were years of rapid social and political change. Under the leadership of Maria Elena Girone, President and CEO, the Institute responded to the changes. A series of community needs assessments were conducted to identify needed services and their impact on low-income families. As a result, program planning and areas for intervention were refocused on child abuse, homelessness, family violence, and families experiencing multiple crises.

Initiatives during the 1980s:

  • Expansion of Services to meet increased demand for services: Bushwick Child Placement Prevention Program; Brooklyn Mental Health Clinic; Program to Prevent Educational Gaps; and the Queens Mental Health Clinic.
  • Establishment of the Puerto Rican Family Foundation to serve as the title holding corporation for capital assets, raise funds to initiate programs, and ensure the long life of the Institute.
  • Partnerships with corporate America were established, aligned with strategic fundraising efforts.


The 1990s confronted minority communities and human service organizations with the devastation caused by the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. In addition, increased numbers of homeless individuals and families and the number of families and children facing urgent need for education and crisis prevention were evident.

The Institute played a leadership role in these areas by providing new services, community outreach and educational efforts, and geographical expansion of services. As part of its strategic plan, the Institute moved to strengthen its institutional longevity through real estate holdings.

  • 1990 - The Institute became the lead agency for the Bronx HIV Care Network providing leadership and guidance to HIV/AIDS service providers.
  • 1991 - The Puerto Rican Family Foundation purchased the building where the Institute's headquarters is housed and launched a $2.1 million campaign for renovations.
  • 1993 - The Children's Intensive Case Management and Adolescent Supportive Case Management programs were established in Brooklyn.
  • 1994 - The Home-based Crisis Intervention Program was established in Queens and the Case Management Program for the Homeless was implemented.
  • 1995 - Partial Hospitalization Program for adults with serious and persistent mental health illness was begun in Brooklyn.
  • 1997 - East New York Child Placement Prevention Program in Brooklyn.
  • 1999 - New Jersey Mental Health Clinic was established with the leadership and support of Merck & Co.


The new millennium presented new challenges and opportunities to respond to emerging community needs.

  • 2001 - The Institute responded to the needs of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks by increasing its crisis and counseling services to victims and relatives.
  • 2001 - Williamsburg Child Placement Prevention Program established in Brooklyn.
  • 2003 - Bronx Bridges HIV Prevention Program started.
  • 2004 - Food Pantry for needy families opened at the Institute's headquarters in partnership with United Way of New York.
  • 2005 - Twenty-two additional Head Start centers were established in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • 2005 - New Jersey Clinic expands its service to include: Kids First to mentor children of incarcerated parents, the Latino Consumer Education Program in collaboration with St. Mary Hospital, and the Rainbow Program to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate parenting classes and in-home parenting support to Latino families.
  • 2005 - Life Line Center for Latino Seniors established with a grant from the F. Fox and Leslie R .Samuels Foundation.
  • 2006 - The Latino Social Work Task Force is established in collaboration with the National Association of Social Workers.
  • 2007-2009 - Expansion of services to victims of domestic violence made possible with the support of grants from Verizon and CITY.
  • 2009 - The Bronx Mental Health Clinic implemented its Metamorphosis Project to provide mental health and mentoring services to adolescent girls with a history of attempted suicide.
  • 2008-2011 - Remarkable growth in the provision of comprehensive Head Start services for children from 3 to 5 years old. Child abuse and neglect programs expanded mostly to Brooklyn. The institute extends culturally sensitive services to families and children of Polish Jewish backgrounds residing in Brooklyn. Healthy Marriages and Fatherhood initiative is established in collaboration with other nonprofit groups. The fight to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in minority communities continues to be a primary focus of the Institute. An HIV/AIDS Education and Awareness program is geared to college minority students in New Jersey and New York colleges.
  • 2012-2014 - Head Start and UPK programs established in the Bronx. Bronx Head Start building is transferred to PRFI Assets. PRFI is ranked 14th non-profit Hispanic Organization in U.S. by Hispanic Business Magazine.


In 2009, the Puerto Rican Family Foundation legally changed its name to the "Hope for Children and Families Foundation." The Foundation's historical mission continues: to operate as a supporting organization for the Puerto Rican Family Institute."

Its goals are to create mechanisms to leverage private, corporate, and individual resources for the creation and financing of service programs focused on the achievement of the well-being of people of all races and ethnic backgrounds.

The Foundation is committed to pursue strategies and activities which ensure the continuation of the Institute and its ability to serve diverse communities for generations to come. These strategies and activities include:

  • A Pocketful of Miracles Gala Annual Benefit.
  • Golf Tournament Classic.
  • Special Events to Benefit the Institute's New Jersey Clinic.
  • Recruitment of Individual Donors.
  • Board of Directors' donations.
  • Real Estate Holdings to enable the Institute's programs to operate in specific geographical areas of service needs and to strengthen their fiscal viability.
  • Advocacy and Educational Initiatives.
  • Assistance for the institutional development of the Puerto Rican Family Institute.
  • Sponsoring a Corporate Advisory Board composed of corporate leaders who support the Institute's mission and provide their expertise for institutional development.


  • Promoting collaborative partnerships between the Institute and private entities.
  • Strengthening our families, protecting our children and keeping them safe.
  • Strengthening of specialized services to ther communities in need.
  • Solidifying child abuse and neglect services to children.
  • Developing resources and opportunities to meet other emergent needs of families.
  • Overall implementation of fiscal measures to acheive cost effectiveness, fiscal soundness and efficiency of technology.