Skip to main content

Our History

On March 1, 1976, The Women's Center of San Joaquin County opened its doors. The Center evolved out of the initiative, planning and dedication of eight local women who realized there was not a central place in the community where women and children in crisis could turn to for information, encouragement, and support. They dreamed of a center where women could meet and make friends, share concerns, participate in workshops and discussions, and receive resources and support for family violence and abuse.

After six months of planning, these women incorporated as the Women’s Center Coalition, rented space in the First Congregational Church of Stockton, raised $275 at a garage sale, and opened the Women’s Center of Stockton. When it opened, the Tracy Press reported: “There is a new source of energy in Stockton, a place where the action never seems to quit.” In November 1976, the center was granted non-profit status under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Services expanded quickly and in 1979, the agency changed its name to The Women’s Center of San Joaquin County to reflect the county-wide scope of services provided. From 1976 - 2012, The Women's Center of San Joaquin County provided services and shelter to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

On July 1, 2012, Family and Youth Services (FAYS) merged with The Women’s Center of San Joaquin County to become Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services (WCYFS). Prior to the merger, FAYS served homeless youth in San Joaquin and surrounding counties for more than 40 years, giving young people the safety, support and positive options they need to improve their lives. WCYFS has a budget of $3.9 million, and a staff of 60 providing services at 11 program sites throughout San Joaquin County.

PREVAIL is San Joaquin County’s primary provider of shelter and services specifically designed to meet the needs of homeless and runaway youth and victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. PREVAIL serves more than 20,000 individuals annually through its direct services and community outreach, including more than 600 women, children and youth who stay in our shelters each year.

Our Milestones


Family and Youth Services (FAYS) is established

FAYS was established to build a stronger community by fostering the strength of youth, adults and families to help them meet life’s challenges.

While the 1960s brought about an increased interest in child abuse, nearly all of the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children organizations had closed.


Women’s Center of Stockton is established

Women’s Center of Stockton was established to offer a variety of opportunities to the community including: a place where women can share ideas and feelings and examine their place in the community and in society; a center for growth where women can learn skills that are important in dealing with a changing world; and a center for change where women can collectively work on solutions to programs and develop stable and satisfying lives.

Women Against Rape joins Women’s Center of Stockton and provides a 24-Hour Crisis Line; immediate support on the phone, at hospitals or at home (crisis intervention); follow-up counseling and advocacy for victims; and community education.

California just dropped the “no fault” divorce, while nationally, it was still legal for husbands to rape their wives.


The second-wave feminist movement was going strong.

TIME had just awarded its “Man of the Year” cover to “American Women.”

The National Organization of Women (NOW) had recently been established because the US government refuse to publish the Commission on the Status of Women’s report on job discrimination based on gender.


Women’s Center of Stockton becomes The Women’s Center of SJC

The demand for these services is so great that Women’s Center of Stockton becomes Women’s Center of San Joaquin County (The Women’s Center of SJC) to reflect the countywide need for its services.


The Women’s Center of SJC starts Children’s Counseling and Opens Domestic Violence Shelter in Stockton, CA

The Women’s Center of San Joaquin County’s commitment to women and therefore mothers, compels the development of counseling programs for high-risk children and classes to teach parenting skills. As well as opening Directions for Abused Women in Need (DAWN) House, an emergency shelter for battered women and their children. DAWN provides food, clothing, and basic necessities; individual counseling; support group; court accompaniment and advocacy; assistance with temporary restraining orders; safety planning; and information and referrals.


Research just began linking domestic violence to sexual assault, in addition to research demonstrating the impact of domestic violence on children.

During this time there was only about 100 domestic violence shelters nationally.


The Women’s Center of SJC Opens Lodi Office

The Lodi Office opened to serve clients in the north county region as services grew and were needed throughout the county. These services were provided completely by volunteers.


Family and Youth Services Opens an Emergency Youth Shelter

Safe House opened in response to a dramatic rise in the number of local homeless you seeking shelter. Safe House, an eight-bed home, provides short-term (up to 21 days) emergency shelter to youth ages 12 to 17 and their children. The shelter provides food, clothing and basic necessities, individual and family therapy, life skills training, educational support, and support groups.


There was a constant increase in the number of young people who were forced out of their homes, abandoned, or living in the streets with their parents’ consent. The families of these youth were plagued with substance abuse, violence, and other family conflict.


Family and Youth Services Opens a Transitional Living Youth Shelter

Opportunity House, a long-term (up to 21 months) transitional shelter opens to protect homeless and runaway youth from child abuse and provide them with an opportunity to become independent and live a productive life.

Opportunity House was opened less than a decade (1988) after congress established the Transitional Living Program for older homeless youth in response to the fact that family reunification was not always a safe or viable option for homeless young people.


The Women’s Center of SJC Opens Domestic Violence Shelter in Tracy, CA


The Women’s Center of SJC expands services to Manteca and Tracy

To meet the growing need for services The Women’s Center of SJC expands services to Manteca and Tracy (South County).


The Women’s Center of SJC joins Sexual Assault Response Team

The Women’s Center of SJC joins San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, San Joaquin General Hospital, SJC’s Law Enforcement Agencies, Victim Witness, San Joaquin County Human Services Agency Child Advocacy Center and Child Protective Services to establish a Sexual Assault Response Team to conduct forensic examinations for victims of sexual assault.


The Women’s Center of SJC merges with Family and Youth Services

After much collaboration between services and programs, the Board of Directors from both agencies decide to merge to provide overlapping services to individuals and families and becomes Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services (WCYFS).


WCYFS begins the Human Trafficking Task Force

WCYFS brings together numerous community partners to establish San Joaquin County’s Human Trafficking Task Force. With representation from Stockton Police Department, San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, Probation, Victim Witness, Human Services Agencies and Children Services, and thirty additional governmental and nongovernmental agencies, the task force meet to combat the issue and protect individuals from human trafficking.

Due to the location of San Joaquin County – 80 miles east of San Francisco, 50 miles south of Sacramento, and 221 miles north of Los Angeles – along with an active inland port, a county regional airport, and several major freeways, it remains a corridor for traffickers to transport women across California.


WCYFS begins CSEC Program & Opens Shelter to Men

2020 - 2022

Through COVID 19 pandemic, our doors stay open

We restructure to demonstrate our commitment to fiscal responsibility & program integrity and add to our services:

  • Advocacy for children experiencing child abuse & neglect 
  • Clinical therapy 
  • Substance Use/Harm Reduction Services 
  • Youth Action Board 
  • Restorative Justice Program 
  • Developing a multitude of housing programs


Start business under new brand name: PREVAIL