The history of the IRIS Center
The Center began in 1977 by offering low-fee, culturally focused mental health therapy for women and their partners, as well as issue-specific group sessions, such as groups for women who were sexually abused as children and women experiencing domestic violence. In 1979, the IRIS Project, an outpatient drug treatment program, was started after a California Division of Drug Abuse study found that nearly a third of women using mental health services at the IRIS Center had serious drug problems. In 1990, the IRIS Center initiated the Save Our Sisters (SOS) Program, which provided intensive day treatment to pregnant and postpartum crack/cocaine-addicted women and their children. The program specifically targeted African-American women living in housing projects and received Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), now called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The SOS Program was later renamed the Intensive Outpatient Program and now includes all low-income women of color. Due to the high-risk behaviors of substance abusers, the IRIS Center began providing HIV prevention services in 1987. These services include street outreach, prevention case management, as well as individual and group education and counseling for all women, with specific emphasis on African-Americans and Latinas. In 2003, these services were extended to include young women 13-24 years of age, with staff conducting workshops and prevention case mangement at four San Francisco High Schools as well as the Juvenile Youth Dentention Center.