In 1912, 30 charitable organizations came together as United Jewish Charities with the mission of providing financial assistance to those in need. The organization also aided victims of influenza epidemic, helped immigrants with child welfare ,helped with interest free loans, medical and legal aid and burial assistance. In 1926 United Jewish Charities formed and affiliation with the Greater Hartford Community Chest , a relationship that still continues today with the United Way. By 1940 the name became United Jewish Social Services. This reflected the fact that the Social Security Act relieved private agencies of having to provide financial assistance to families with long term financial need. This allowed the organization to move toward its focus on family service. The organization also absorbed the German Jewish Refugee Committee and aided in resettlement by the late 1930s.
From 1940 - 1960 the agency’s work also grew to include foster care placement, summer camp for children and resettling of Cuban refugees. In 1968 the agency became Jewish Family Service and subsequently Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford. From 1960 - 1980 new programs included resettlement of Soviet Jews, marital, family and parent counseling, adoption services, family life education, outreach to inter-married couples and coordination of services to older adults. In 1981 JFS first received national accreditation from the Council on Accreditation for Family and Children’s Service Agencies.
Over the years, program growth has reflected community need. From 1980 - 2000 , new programs included Homemaker Referral, Divorce Workshops, Jewish Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Programs for Holocaust Survivors, programs for Developmental Disabilities and Chronic Needs, and bereavement counseling. In 2004, JFS became licensed by the Department of Children and Families to provide specialized services to children and teens.
In 2006 JFS moved from Bishops Corner to the space it now occupies on the Zachs Campus in the Community Services Building. More recent initiatives have included the Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry which was started in 2002, the Jewish Employment Transition Service (JETS), the Money Coach Program, and involvement in the state funded Safety Net Service. JFS Care at Home LLC was formed as a sole member LLC with JFS as the sole member. This is a home care agency which provides quality inhome care to older adults. It also provides a meaningful living wage to the caregivers it employs. As a model of social entrepreneurship, a portion of its profits are shared with JFS.
JFS celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012.