For children in foster care, maintaining their cultural practices and traditions is an incredibly important component of being able to hold on to their identity. During a time of heavy transition for these youth, keeping those ties intact is crucial. At SOS Illinois, we proudly celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as we are fortunate enough to serve diverse communities, including Hispanic and Latino youth in foster care.
The Racial Justice Committee Hosts Series of Events to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Established in May of 2020, the SOS Illinois Racial Justice Committee is working to shed light on the systems of inequity that disproportionately impact people of color, socioeconomic deprivation, poor education, and lack of access to resources. The committee has been working behind the scenes to determine the best approach SOS Illinois can take to address the issues the organization faces today, in particular working to reunite families.
The SOS Illinois Racial Justice Committee for over a year has worked to establish meaningful initiatives that both educate and offer events and activities for staff and children. For Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15, a host of events were held both at our Village and with community partners. Below is a list of events held throughout the month-long celebration.
The month-long celebration was kicked off at our very own Casa Tepeyac, as it hosted the Vecinos Back-To-Yard Event in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. This event was centered around being in community, caring for one another, and learning about Latin and Hispanic cultures. Youth seen in pictures, colored in alebrijes (brightly-colored spirit guides according to Mexican folklore). They also learned about modern-day Latinx figures and activists. Casa Tepeyac gifted sanitation kits, school supplies, baby clothing, blankets, shoes, and winter clothing to the youth in our care. Families enjoyed spending quality time with neighbors, and were thankful for the resources gifted and the renewed sense of community.
On September 24, Margarita Cisneros and Rachel Ochoa, led a workshop about “Finding a Career and the Necessary Steps to Get There” in-person and live via Zoom. They both shared amazing career advice. We highlight below the encouraging words of Rachel Ochoa at our Career Talk.
On October 13, an amazing event was held – the Goya Kitchen Latin Meals at Roosevelt Square Community Center. Our Village gathered and shared an incredible meal featuring Hispanic food, stories, music for dancing to Latin songs, and lots of laughing. Families enjoyed the time together in community. Special thanks go to our incredible chefs and sous-chefs, Ms. Wendy, Ms. Carmen, Ms. Charlene, Ms. Gabby, Ms. Fatina, Ms. Kelly, and Ms. Emily for making this celebration a success!
Additionally, throughout the month we highlighted the incredible work being done by our colleagues in Latin and Hispanic countries in Villages around the world on our social platforms. Knowing there are and being connected to so many individuals committed to the Village Model of Care is truly inspiring and reminds us of the impact we can make here and across the globe.
Hispanic Heritage Month Allows Us to Recognize Hurdles Youth in Care Face
For youth in care, connecting to their heritage and culture presents its own unique hurdles. At SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, we emphasize how imperative it is for resource parents to be culturally competent. Encouraging the exploration of any child’s cultural background helps them to build a strong sense of cultural self! Here is what we shared on social media that offers a more practical sense of what this truly looks like.
Above and beyond our month-long celebration is our year-round commitment to ensuring children connect to their heritage. As part of the services we offer in our Villages, Bilingual Child Welfare Specialists help bridge the important gap with biological parents who speak mainly Spanish. By being able to provide clear communication, these biological parents can hear crucial updates on their children in our care. Additionally, our family strengthening facility at Casa Tepeyac serves those in the Back of the Yards community, which includes a heavy population of Latino families and provides preventative services in both English and Spanish.
Hispanic Heritage Month Shines a Spotlight on the Need for Spanish-Speaking Foster Parents
In Illinois, it is legally required that children in foster care with primarily Spanish-speaking biological parents be placed with foster parents that can also speak Spanish. This allows a clear means of communication between biological and foster parents and is vital to ensuring youth in foster care receive the highest quality of care without requiring a translator. Spanish-speaking foster parents create a smooth flow of processes within the court system as well. By eliminating a language barrier, errors that might otherwise occur can be mitigated. At SOS Illinois, we are careful in ensuring the the youth in our care who require Spanish-speaking Foster Parents are able to be placed in a fitting Village home.
Unfortunately, there are currently not enough Spanish-speaking Foster Parents for children in foster care at SOS Children’s Villages Illinois or otherwise to serve the children who need them. If you are a native Spanish speaker or hold Spanish as a secondary language, we invite you to consider becoming a full-time Foster Parent with SOS Illinois. We also encourage you to share this opportunity with others in your circle who may find this mission-based career a perfect fit.
Casa Tepeyac Serves Hispanic and Latino Families in Chicago’s Back of the Yards
Our Casa Tepeyac preventative services location offers supportive programming and resources to at-risk families. These include offering classes, one-on-one meetings, and resources in Spanish so that it can be of greatest accessibility to the community in the Back of the Yard, which consists primarily of native Spanish speakers. Discover the impact Casa Tepeyac is making for children and families.
The Supportive Parenting Classes series at Casa Tepeyac has been an incredible asset and is centered entirely around the needs of the community. Learn more about how this free program supports biological parents of children in foster care at SOS Illinois and parents within the surrounding communities.
Support Diverse Children in Foster Care in Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month
When you make a donation to SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, your donated funds help ensure we are able to continue providing culturally-affirming care, on-site clinical support and case management, and gatherings that encourage the youth in our care to celebrate and love who they are.