Hyde Park agency: Helping children grow up with security, love
Since 1849, the Hyde Park-based Chicago Child Care Society has had one overall goal: to help children grow up securely.
"This is our future," said Beatrice Moore, who has helped raise more than 100 children in the past 30 years through the Chicago Child Care Society's foster-care program. "I get worried when I see a child that doesn't have any love. Every child needs a little love and affection."
The Chicago Child Care Society, located at 5467 S. University Ave., has worked in a multitude of ways to help protect vulnerable children and strengthen their families, said Joan Ebner, development director for the agency. It is the oldest child-welfare agency in the state and was among the first in the nation. Today, the agency provides such services as foster care for abused and neglected children, adoption services for children with special needs, counseling and services for pregnant adolescents and counseling for at-risk children and families.
University faculty and staff members can donate to the Chicago Child Care Society or any established charity in the United States through the University's Campaign for the United Way and Other Charities. The Child Care Society is a longtime United Way agency.
"One of the reasons people at the University of Chicago have been interested in the agency is that we're close by and provide services to people who live in the community," Ebner said. "Many volunteers from the University help with young people who need tutoring or serve as Big Brothers and Big Sisters. A lot of volunteers say they get the chance to help people they might never have been able to meet otherwise."
An early service of the center was foster care for children who are abused or neglected. The center also has adoption programs for children who have special needs or are difficult to place, such as sibling groups or older children, Ebner said.
A related program, Mothers on the Move (MOM) offers counseling and services to women working to change lifelong patterns that put them at risk of losing their children to foster care.
"The program tries to reunify and strengthen families where there is some risk of children being taken away," Ebner said. "These mothers love their kids, but they don't have the resources, background or role models they need to keep their children. They may also be in substandard housing and face crime and violence and other problems. We work with these families -- who care and want to get ahead -- to provide them with the skills and experiences they need for success."
The agency's largest service is the Chicago Comprehensive Care Center (4Cs), which serves approximately 2,000 girls each year. The program assists girls enrolled in Chicago's alternative public schools for pregnant adolescents.
The center provides social services for the girls, some of whom may be at risk themselves because of family histories of drug abuse, abuse in the family or a pattern of not seeking medical care.
"The very obvious basic goals are to keep them in school and get adequate medical care so they deliver safe and healthy newborns," Ebner said.
The agency's most visible project is the Child and Family Development Center. The center helps young children through day care enhanced with family services.
One University fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, has been particularly active in working with the children at the center, she said.
"They come over and work with the kids after school -- just being a buddy," Ebner said. "They show these kids they have places to go, things to see and dreams to conquer."
Information on contributing to the University's United Way and Other Charities Campaign has been mailed to all University employees. This year, the University hopes to raise $275,000 for charitable organizations. Donations can be made through a cash contribution or by payroll deduction. Staff and faculty members who contribute through the University's campaign are eligible to win prizes donated by the University and local businesses, including a grand prize of two round-trip tickets donated by Kiwi International Airlines.