“South Central Community Services, Inc. is a comprehensive human service agency committed to improving the quality of life for individuals and families by providing quality mental health, educational, socio-economic, and recreational programs and services throughout metropolitan Chicago.”
South Central Community Services, Inc. was founded in 1970 by residents of the Chatham and Avalon Park communities, in response to a lack of mental health services for a growing number of children with emotional and behavioral disorders. These children were being excluded from the public schools on the South side of Chicago. To meet the needs of this unique population, under the direction of Dr. Rosemary S. Bowen, the South Central Community Health Service Organization (SCCHSO) was formed, and a special education school established with initial funding from the Department of Mental Health.
Operating from a storefront, SCCHSO expanded its services and purchased the closed Chatham YMCA, which was turned into a community center. By 1981, deteriorating economic conditions and increasing community problems and needs fueled a call for additional programs and services. That call was answered by SCCHSO. So numerous, diverse, and varied were the requests from the residents that SCCHSO had to increase its services and expand its mission. To reflect its evolution, in 1981, SCCHSO was renamed South Central Community Services, Inc. (SCCS).
After serving twenty years as the Chief Executive Officer and founder, Dr. Bowen relinquished her leadership role, and assumed the position of Chief Advisor to the Board of Directors. In 1990 Dr. Felicia Blasingame. Dr. Blasingame worked her way up through the ranks of South Central, beginning in August 1979 as a teacher of emotionally disturbed and learning disabled students. She also served as a Learning Disabilities Specialist, Special Education Administrator and Associate Executive Director in Charge of All Programmatic Affairs prior to being named President/Chief Executive Officer in July 1990. During her 38 year tenure, she contributed greatly to the growth of South Central from a special education school for emotionally and behaviorally disordered youth to a major human service agency, offering eighteen (18) programs and services from over six (6) facilities and ten (10) senior satellite facilities. Some of the programs and services provided by South Central Community Services were Day Treatment Therapeutic High School and Elementary School for emotionally disordered children; Adult, Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services, Child Welfare Services, After School Program, Early Readers Program, Biddy Basketball League, Brag Club for Seniors, Senior Satellite Recreation Program, Sports & Recreation, Summer Enrichment Camp, East St. Louis Advocacy House Program, Wellness Program and Massage Services.
Since that time, South Central has blossomed into a major comprehensive social service agency, offering programs and services throughout the Chicago area. Each year thousands of residents, ranging from youth to senior citizens, are beneficiaries of the services provided by staff.
Upon Dr. Blasingame’s retirement from the agency in May of 2017, Attorney and former SCCS Board Member Angela Harkless became the interim Executive Director. In May of 2023, Dr. Angelia Watkins became the official President/Chief Executive Officer of South Central Community Services.
The programs and services offered by South Central include Literacy Reading Program for Youth, Day Treatment Elementary School, Day Treatment High School, After School Programming, Chess, Photography, Golf, Music, Podcasting, Cheerleading, Biddy Basketball, Little League Baseball, Summer Enrichment Camps, Brag Club for Seniors; Senior Recreation Services, and more.
The exemplary efforts of South Central have been recognized by the Sara Lee Foundation which honored South Central’s service to the community with its coveted Spirit Award. The legacy of quality services and commitment to the community played a significant role in the Agency’s continued reaccreditation by the Council on Accreditation (COA), a national accrediting body and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation (NCA).
With the support of the Board of Directors, and under the leadership of Dr. Angelia Watkins, President/Chief Executive Officer, South Central is one of the most effective comprehensive human service agencies in Chicago...one that positively impacts and improves the quality of life for individuals and families.
The primary communities served by SCCS are Avalon Park, Burnside, Chatham, Englewood, Greater Grand Crossing, Auburn Gresham, Roseland, and South Shore. Based in some of Chicago’s most destitute and disadvantaged neighborhoods, South Central’s staff, continues to diligently address the myriad of economic, educational, psychological and social challenges confronting its constituents.