Helping northern Michigan families since 1937.

At Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan, we believe that necessities are more than food, clothing, and shelter. We believe that EVERY child deserves access to sports, recreation, music lessons, summer camp, art, birthday presents, or other things that help undo the damage caused by trauma, and help children to realize their true potential.

For more than 80 years, CFS has responded to the community’s changing needs through a wide range of programs. We are dedicated to helping people of all ages overcome life’s challenges.

Image by Ashton Bingham


CFS creates safer and healthier communities in Northern Michigan through a wide-ranging collection of services and programs that support the well-being of those we serve in times of crisis, challenge, and life transition.


CFS values

SUSTAINABILITY - We will consistently work together to maintain a stable organization to accomplish our mission.

EXCELLENCE - We will conduct ourselves with the highest standards of integrity, ethics, and fiscal responsibility.

SERVICE - We will serve by providing high quality, efficient, and versatile services for the greatest benefit of all stakeholders. 

INNOVATION - We will create an inventive and exciting environment through proactive leadership that guides and sets industry standards for service delivery and advocacy.

RESPECT - We will treat all of our stakeholders - clients, volunteers, staff, referral sources, and all members of our community - with compassion and dignity. 


“The mission of CFS is one to which I am personally committed. Everyone at CFS wants for all children a chance to live in a safe, secure, and supportive family environment.”

-Terry Paquet, President of the CFS Foundation Board


Concerned with the growing problem of childhood abuse and neglect, local pediatrician Dr. Mark Osterlin sought to create a place that would serve as a safe harbor for children. Dr. Osterlin partnered with the Michigan Children’s Aid Society in 1937 to open an office in Traverse City that provided medical attention and protective services for abused and neglected children in Northern Michigan.


By serving as a mentor, innovator, and advocate for children, Dr. Osterlin created an organization that has been a lasting resource and safety net for the most vulnerable children and families of Northern Michigan.

On January 1, 2014, CFS formally merged with Third Level Crisis Intervention Center, who had shared in CFS’ mission of supporting children and families during moments of crisis, to consolidate their resources and efforts. Third Level continues to assist homeless teens and older youths through youth services, suicide prevention efforts, free legal advice, and substance abuse programs, as part of the CFS family of services.


Today, CFS serves over 6000 individuals annually and offers assistance in more than twenty counties in northern Michigan through a variety of programs. CFS strives to the highest level of standards by utilizing evidence based models and care, on-going program and service evaluation, and employing staff who are committed, caring, and dedicated individuals who want to make a difference. You can view our FY2019 annual report here

Image by Gift Habeshaw

In order for CFS to continue its mission of supporting all of northern Michigan’s children, youth, adults and families in need, our Board of Directors is committed to maintaining a financially sustainable organization by creating an infrastructure that supports our clients, grows our core programs and service offerings, and develops our team of employees and volunteers. You can view our strategic plan here

Of course, none of this would be possible without the generous support of our corporate partners and individual donors. CFS gratefully accepts donations of cash, check, money order, or credit card gift. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning that all donations are deductible to the extent allowable by federal and states tax laws.

Foster Care &
Adoption Programs

Child & Family Services connects foster and
adoptive parents with children who need them.
Emergency, respite, short-term, and long-term
placements are needed and available.

Behavioral Health

With counseling services, parenting classes, and trauma assessment resources, CFS has a network of support services to assist any type of problem for any type of family.

Third Level

Focusing on runaways and at-risk teens, the Third Level Services programs are designed to improve youth development, strengthen family functioning, and reunite families.

An AmeriCorps Program

Part of the national AmeriCorps network, YouthWork Industries is the newest CFS program. YouthWork provides service-based learning opportunities for vulnerable young adults throughout Michigan. Our youth members learn important job and life skills, complete incredible environmental and service projects in their home communities, and build lifelong relationships with other members and YouthWork staff.

YouthWork has generated a lot of excitement in northern Michigan and beyond after being named the Corps Network's 2020 Project of the Year. YouthWork partners and members appreciate the real-life, hands-on workforce development opportunities and individual empowerment the program offers.


Board of Directors 

Diane Emling, President
Krista Goldman, Vice President
Ruth Gilmer, Treasurer
Rick Summers, Secretary
Krista Goldman
Patrick Lamb
Chris Mohrhardt
Robert Needham
Kaylee Simerson
Rachel Wasserman
Joanie Hazelton

Melissa Umulis

Amber McKenney

Nicola Philpott

Lisa Thomas

Debra HersheyDiane Emling   (President) Lisa Thomas   (Vice President) Ruth Gilmer  (Treasurer) Rick Summers   (Secretary) Krista Goldman Patrick Lamb Chris Mohrhardt Robert Needham Lauren Pfeil Kaylee Simerson Rachel Wasserman Joanie HazeltonDiane Emling   (President)
Lisa Thomas   (Vice President)
Ruth Gilmer  (Treasurer)
Rick Summers   (Secretary)
Krista Goldman
Patrick Lamb
Chris Mohrhardt
Robert Needham
Lauren Pfeil
Kaylee Simerson
Rachel Wasserman
Joanie Hazelton

Board Trustees

Terry Paquet, President

Ken Petterson, Vice President

Warren “Bud” Cline III, Treasurer

Erik Falconer, Secretary

EmmLee Cameron

Bob Cornwell

Jeremy Hawke

Galen Krupka

Rob Tubbs


Child & Family Services relies on the generosity of our northern Michigan community. There are several ways you can support our most at-risk friends and neighbors.

Your support in this time of great need will ensure that we are able to do this.