A Haven for Abused, Neglected and Vulnerable Children and Youth

child-welfareAunt Martha’s Child Welfare Services include family strengthening and support, residential wellness centers, independent living programs, specialized and traditional foster care, as well as foster home recruitment and licensing. All of the children, youth and young adults served by our child welfare programs come to Aunt Martha’s having been removed from their birth families because of abuse or neglect.

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Foster Home Licensing

foster-home-licensing-106x106Nurturing parents are needed in all communities for children and youth who need safe alternative homes upon removal from the custody of their biological families.

Foster Parents provide temporary and permanent living environments for children until they reach permanency through return home to their biological families, adoption, subsidized guardianship, or other goals deemed appropriate for youth.

Our Foster Home Licensing services are provided by certified professionals who assist prospective foster parents through the licensing process by educating them about policies and procedures, as well as their rights and responsibilities as Licensed Foster Parents.

Foster Parents are also trained on the dynamics of the traumas, loss and separation experienced by these children.

Foster Parents must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Be Twenty-one years or older
  • Consent and pass a criminal background check
  • Participate in a home study process
  • Complete Foster Adopt Pride Training (27 hours)
  • Home must meet The Department of Children and Family Services 402 Standards for Foster Family Homes


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Foster Care

foster-care-106x106Aunt Martha’s foster homes provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment for children until they can return to their families. We currently offer two types of foster care arrangements:

Traditional Foster Care

Traditional Foster Care provides placement in a licensed foster home for youth age 0 – 21 who are unable to reside with their natural family.

Traditional Foster Care services are provided to children who:

  • Are victims of abuse or neglect; and,
  • Are wards of the Department of Children and Family Services.

Traditional foster care services are provided by unrelated, trained, licensed foster families.

Specialized Foster Care

Specialized Foster Care services provide alternative living arrangements for children and youth up to age 21 who:

  • Are victims of abuse or neglect;
  • Are wards of the Department of Children and Family Services;
  • Are unable to reside with their natural family; and,
  • Have special medical, behavioral or educational needs.

These foster families are also licensed and receive 64 hours of additional, more intense training. They also have access to a Foster Parent facilitated support group to discuss issues and concerns related to the children in their care.

Aunt Martha’s is proud to be one of just a few organizations in Illinois to offer Specialized Foster Care services.

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Icon - HealthWorks-01Using a community-based approach, HealthWorks is designed to improve the health status of children in the custody of the State of Illinois by ensuring the availability of accessible, well-coordinated, continuous, comprehensive, quality health care services.

Aunt Martha’s is the lead agency for the HealthWorks program in Cook County.

  • Initial Health Screenings within 24 hours after protective custody has been taken by DCFS
  • Comprehensive Health Evaluations within 21 days of legal (temporary) custody
  • Primary Care Physician for each child
  • Regular Well-Child Exams and Immunizations
  • Access to Specialty Health Care
  • Health Passports; documenting all health care services

For more detailed information about the HealthWorks program, including staff contact information, visit http://www.healthworkscookcounty.com.

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Residential Wellness Services

residential-services-106x106Aunt Martha’s provides two types of Residential Wellness Services for abused and neglected youth who are referred to us by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

The Children’s Reception Center (CRC) is the coordinating body for the seven sites that make up the network of specialized centers in and around Cook County. It also serves as the central intake hub for children entering the State’s system for the first time.

Our Lake House Shelter houses youth from age 8 – 18 who are referred by the DCFS Northern Region office.

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Independent Living

Our Pathways Independent Living program helps young adults (age 19 – 21) who are wards of the State of Illinois make their transition to independence and adulthood. Aunt Martha’s staff provide guidance and support, but the goal of the program is independence.

The young adults who participate in the Pathways program receive assistance locating and maintaining housing in the community of their choice, and they work with our staff to develop the skills necessary to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.

Program participants must be referred by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

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Strengthening Families

strengthening-families-106x106In addition to providing safe, secure and nurturing environments for children and youth who have already been removed from their homes by Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Aunt Martha’s also plays an important role in helping to strengthen and support families in order to protect children and prevent the need for out-of-home placement.

Our Intact Families program is designed to work with families who have been reported to DCFS for concerns of abuse or neglect. The families who participate in the program are assigned a case manager who educates and establishes links between the family and an array of support services within their home community.

Families must be referred by a Department of Children and Family Services caseworker, and are only eligible to participate in the program if it is determined that the child’s health and safety will not be endangered by allowing them to remain with their family.

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