The organization that is now known as Family Service Madison began life as associated charities on Jan. 6, 1910. Associated Charities was formed to reduce the duplication of relief efforts throughout Dane County. The original board of directors was made up of representatives of several charitable organizations.

The agency was initially funded through subscriptions of board and associate members, and from other concerned members of the community.

During the 1920's the agency began to focus on casework service to individuals and families. Many of the agency's other activities were incorporated as separate agencies, transferred to other public or voluntary agencies, or discontinued. In 1925, "Kiddie Camp" was developed in cooperation with the Capital Times newspaper. Kiddie Camp was a preventative camp for children who had been exposed to tuberculosis. Kiddie Camp became a separate non-profit corporation in 1940.

The Great Depression created a greater financial burden than any voluntary agency could carry. In 1932, the Public Welfare Association of Madison transferred its relief load to the Dane County Relief Department. The emergence of governmental social service agencies made it necessary for another name change to avoid identification as a public relief agency. The name of the agency changed to Family Welfare Association of Madison.

On Feb. 1, 1934, a trial merger between the Family Welfare Association of Madison and the Children's Service Association of Madison was effected. The merger was favored by the principal funding source of the two agencies since both had a child-placing program. One year later, the name of the merged agencies became the Family Welfare and Children's Service Association.

In 1944. the agency 1944 opened a child guidance clinic with a part-time psychiatrist funded by the state board of health. The opening of a child guidance clinic was necessary to provide greater psychiatric services. Another change in 1944 involved providing of field-work experience to University of Wisconsin graduate students from the School of Social Work. Prior to the use of the graduate students, undergraduates had been provided field-work placements.

On Oct. 8, 1945, the name of the was changed to Family Service, Inc. The new name was chosen as the best to convey the overall nature of the programs offered and was in sync with changes occurring nationally. In 1949, Family Service began the homemaker service. This program was designed to allow children to remain in their own home during their mother's incapacity to care for them and to help postpone institutional care for the elderly and disabled. The program initially lasted for seven years. This program was restarted in February 1966.

The 1950's saw Family Service change locations twice. The first move, in August 1952, was to the Community Chest Building on West Johnson St. Family Service sold the North Hancock home and used the profit to pay for office furniture and remodeling. Family Service moved again in July 1959 with the United Community Chest to a new building at 2059 Atwood Avenue.

Several changes took place by the end of the 1970's. In 1968, a new fee system was established. The new system placed increased emphasis on self-generated income. Group counseling began in 1972 to respond to an increase in client hours of service--from 4,706 client hours in 1972 to 6,749 hours in 1973. Medical psychiatric services were incorporated into the programs of Family Service in 1976, when Dr. Robert Jackson affiliated with the agency.

In 1977, Family Service merged with the Madison Consumer Credit Counseling Service Inc., expanding the capabilities of the agency to deal with client problems related to debt and other financial stresses. In January 1978, the agency moved into new quarters at 214 N. Hamilton Street, allowing the three previous service locations to be centralized into one office.

In 1981, Family Service was nationally accredited for the first time by the Council on Accreditation as an outpatient mental health facility. Later reviews reflected the accreditation of financial counseling, child and family counseling, and employee-assistance specialties.

In 1988, Family Service moved to its current building at 128 E. Olin Avenue. A larger building was necessary to meet the expanded need for more community based-services for families. The agency's services and size more than doubled between 1985 and 1989.

In June, 2000, On Belay Youth & Family Service Madison merged with Family Service. This allowed Family Service Madison to offer a day treatment program now called Adventures and the On Belay Team and Challenge program. On April 1, 2004, the Centers for Prevention and Intervention (CPI) merged with Family Service. This allowed Family Service to offer alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) prevention and education services through one of the CPI programs: Prevention & Intervention Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse (PICADA). This lead to the eventual creation of AODA treatment services at Family Service, which is consistent with the state's movement into co-occurring treatment. This means we can offer mental health and AODA services to our consumers, “or one-stop shopping.”

In 2010, the agency celebrated it 100 year anniversary and changed its name to Family Service Madison, Inc.

On April 1, 2013, Imagine a Child’s Capacity became a part of Family Service Madison, following several years of a management contract between the two agencies. This allowed FSM to bring the Bridges for Families: Birth to Three program into our agency.