March 4th is Chicago’s birthday and gives us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of the history of the city we call home. We recognize the progress that has been made in Chicago, and are committed to doing our part in ensuring that it’s a city where everyone can thrive, including children in foster care. As we reflect on Chicago’s history, we also celebrate the 30 years that SOS Children’s Villages has dedicated to serving youth in foster care in the Chicagoland area.
SOS Illinois would like to celebrate Chicago’s birthday by highlighting our three unique locations in Chicago. Each of our locations serves as a safe haven for children in foster care and at-risk families while offering them the tools and support they need to succeed. While each location is unique, all three provide fundamental resources and services that help bring our mission to life.
Chicago Village – the World’s First Urban Foster Care Village
Our Chicago Village opened in 2004 in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood of Chicago where the site of an old mattress factory became a welcoming neighborhood for brothers and sisters in Illinois foster care.
The Chicago Village consists of 17 single-family homes. In 2007, the 16,000 square foot Lavezzorio Community Center opened as the hub of the Chicago Village, providing on-site case management and clinical services to children in the Village. Additionally, the Lavezzorio Community Center offers educational, recreational, and daycare programs to Village residents and local community members. Additionally, a thriving wellness garden offers children at the Village the opportunity to explore the wonders of nature right in the middle of their own urban environment. This garden, supported in part by our friends at Swissôtel Chicago, lends itself to our Health and Wellness program through providing nutrition education and mental wellness activities.
Roosevelt Square Village – SOS Illinois’ Newest Village
In October 2014, Roosevelt Square Village opened along West Washburne Avenue in the Roosevelt Square neighborhood of Chicago. The newest Village in Illinois offers the state and city another unique community of 14 individual homes with the capacity to support up to 84 children in foster care. Each home has over 2300 square feet of living space and includes 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, a family room, dining room and kitchen, office space, laundry room, and storage. All homes and surrounding grounds are landscaped and offer two outdoor play areas with designated space for vegetable gardens.
In spring 2019, we broke ground on the Roosevelt Square Community Center. The Community Center, located at 13th Street and Blue Island, will be dedicated to nurturing and transforming lives through family reunification and recreational activities. Various forms of therapeutic, academic, social, and civic enrichment will also aid in the process of transformation. The construction of the 11,000+ square foot facility, designed by internationally recognized architect Juan Moreno, is projected to serve over 5,000 individuals annually from University Village, Lower West Side/Pilsen, Little Village, North Lawndale, and other surrounding neighborhoods. Learn more about this milestone moment in SOS Illinois history here. We anticipate full use of the Center to begin in fall 2020. See a current update of the Center here.
Casa Tepeyac – a Community Built Around Preventative Services and Care
Acquired by SOS Illinois in 2011, Casa Tepeyac is located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago and offers In-Home Family Strengthening Services, which work with families to build on their strengths, tackle tough problems, and stabilize aid to youth dealing with issues related to gang involvement.
Although distinct from our foster care model, this program enhances and expands SOS Illinois’ ability to effectively provide appropriate services for at-risk youth. As our Nation moves towards investing in at-risk risk families through prevention services as part of the Family First Prevention Services Act, we recognize that the work we do through Casa Tepayac not only follows this vision, but helps us to combat issues that lead to a child or sibling group being placed in foster care.
Investing in Chicago Youth in Foster Care and At-Risk Families
If you’d like to give Chicago a gift by supporting local youth in foster care, consider a donation to SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. With multiple ways to give, you can easily find the one that’s right for you and your giving needs. Interested in supporting our mission in other ways? Subscribe to our e-newsletter at the bottom of our media page and stay up-to-date on future events, volunteer opportunities, and programs.