Families Forward

Our Story, Mission, Vision & Values

Who is Families Forward?

Our Story

What started out in 1984 as a humble effort to house families experiencing homelessness in two farmhouses and five rented apartments, has since grown into one of Orange County’s most impactful nonprofits. Tackling the pervasive issue of homelessness for families with children, last year Families Forward improved the lives of more than 13,000 people. From providing food assistance, career coaching, mental health counseling, to financial literacy education, we’re as committed to strengthening overall wellbeing as we are to ensuring everyone has a place to call home.

Our Mission

To prevent and end family homelessness by providing access to housing and resources that create lasting stability.

Our Vision

We see an Orange County where every family has a home and the opportunity to thrive.

Our Values

Families Forward holds strong to our commitment to the values of dignity, empowerment, accountability, community spirit, and hope.

  • Dignity – Honor each individual through an atmosphere of respect, trust, and confidentiality.
  • Empowerment – Inspire self-sufficiency through the development of courage, confidence, and pride.
  • Accountability – Accept responsibility for commitments and accomplishing our goals.
  • Community Spirit – Realize our vision through teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration.
  • Hope – Share a belief in new beginnings and allowing dreams of the future to emerge.

The Hidden Orange County

One of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population is working families with children struggling to make ends meet.

The high cost of basic living, including rent, transportation and childcare, coupled with the significant lack of affordable housing, puts many families at risk. More than 27,000 school-age children are homeless or housing-insecure. These are the families we see every day.


Hours worked each week by a minimum wage earner in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Orange County


The number of low-income renters in Orange County that do not have access to affordable housing


Percentage of Orange County’s children living in poverty according to the U.S. Census Bureau

How We Help

Housing Program: Placing homeless children and families into stable housing. Families Forward works with homeless families to find realistic solutions for sustainable housing and build individualized plans to return each family to self-sufficiency. By stabilizing these families and giving them tools to build a future, we create a stronger community for all of us. A key factor for success is Families Forward’s commitment to collaborate with many organizations to end family homelessness in Orange County, including Orange County United Way, the Commission to End Homelessness, First 5 Orange County and many other partner agencies and foundations. Only together will we be able to end homelessness in Orange County. Visit the Housing Program page for more information.

Community Services: Providing supportive services to improve lives. Families Forward also reaches out to low-income families to help reduce the pressures that can cause homelessness and help them maintain their stability. Through various safety-net services, those at-risk are given access to assistance such as our on-site food pantry, counseling, career coaching, and financial and life skills education. The goal of the program is to help families recover from a financial crisis so they can maintain their self-sufficiency.

Take a look at our Service Stats to learn about Families Forward’s 2022 Impact.


Families (1,028 children and their parents) achieved housing stability.


Families remained stably housed one year after completing our program.


Individuals benefited from Families Forward’s services.

How You Can Help

It’s fun and easy to get involved with Families Forward. Consider one of our many volunteer opportunities listed in our Volunteer section. Or visit our Donate section to see how your support can help families build a path to self-sufficiency.

Your support will help change a child’s life and create hope for a brighter future.