NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Dorothy Fritz (1907 - 1993)
Dorothy Fritz was a pioneer in the development of child-welfare services in Philadelphia and was named the first executive director of Youth Services, Inc (YSI). YSI developed the first nonsectarian, interracial group home for teenaged boys in the city under her direction, and she continued to serve as its director for 20 years.
Youth Services, Inc. was created through a merger of three church-related organizations and was a role model for social services to teenagers. The group home received national recognition and led to the creation of four more group homes in West Philadelphia and Germantown as well as foster homes throughout the city serving adolescent young men and women.
Dorothy Fritz was instrumental in forming the Philadelphia Council of Voluntary Child Care Agencies (now known as the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth and Family Services).
Fritz began her social work career at the start of the Great Depression and worked with child services agencies in Wisconsin, moving to New York in July 1932. She was a senior social worker at the State Department of Social Welfare in New York, leaving in 1942 to serve at the American Red Cross’s national headquarters in Washington, DC. In October 1943, she became regional supervisor for Kentucky and West Virginia, where she supervised field representatives.
Her work in these organizations as well as her directorship of the Sleighton Farms School of Girls from 1945-52 laid the foundation for her work with Youth Services, Inc.
Fritz attended the New York School of Social Work (now Columbia University’s School of Social Work) in New York from 1931-32, returning in 1941 to complete her Master’s degree. She received her BA from Milwaukee-Downer College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1928. Fritz also attended the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Work to complete an Advanced Year of Graduate Professional Education.
Significant Achievements and Awards
Fritz was President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the NASW and President of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work’s Alumni Association.
Fritz was a board member of the Columbia University School of Social Work’s Alumni Association. She was also active in the United Way and the Health and Welfare Council.