Child Welfare

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. Aunt Martha’s provides comprehensive child welfare services to give these children the chance at a real childhood through safe living environments, caring families and access to quality health care.

Our certified professionals will assist prospective foster parents through the licensing process by educating them about policies and procedures, as well as their rights and responsibilities. Foster Parents are also trained on the dynamics of the traumas, loss and separation experienced by these children.

Foster Parents must meet the following requirements:

  • Be 21 years or older
  • 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


Foster Home Licensing Policies
Foster Home Licensing Procedures
Foster Home Licensing Reports


Complaints regarding agencies providing adoption services may be made to the adoption agency, which shall follow the requirements of Section 401.595, or to the nearest Department licensing office. The State Central Register may take, via its toll-free number (1-800-252-2873), complaints during weekends or after regular working hours.

All children need dependable and nurturing parents. That’s even more true for children who have been removed from their biological families because of abuse or neglect. To be a foster parent is to be a child’s second chance and safe haven until adoption, subsidized guardianship, return to their biological families or other forms of permanency.

Aunt Martha’s provides two types of foster care arrangements that are safe, secure and nurturing environments.


2018 Foster Parent Law – Implementation Plan
Chapter III: Department of Children and Family Services
Subchapter b: Program and Technical Support
Part 340, Foster Parent Code

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 by unrelated, trained, licensed foster families and are provided to children who:

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

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.

For more information on becoming a Foster Parent, please send us an e-mail.

Using 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 HealthWorks Cook County.


    • Aunt Martha’s Children’s Reception Center (CRC): capacity of 54 youth.

The Children’s Reception Center located in the Chicago area is a twenty-four hour care program contracted with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for youth ages 7 – 21. Referrals are accepted from DCFS, and other Purchase of Service (POS) providers contracted with DCFS, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Scope of Services:

Aunt Martha’s, Children’s Reception Center, (CRC) is designed to provide emergency, temporary placement for children who have been removed from their homes and families of origins due to allegations of neglect, maltreatment and/or abandonment and placed in the custody of DCFS. In addition, children who have lost their child welfare placement or who are experiencing difficulties to the extent that their behaviors and emotional well -being is deteriorating are also referred to the CRC for care while a permanent placement is sought. Our primary population consists of youth that have suffered the acute trauma of being removed from their home or children who have had chronic trauma suffered repeatedly over time.

The provision of basic needs under emergency conditions in a trauma informed environment is our primary goal. Beyond the basic provision of a safe place to stay, nutritious food and adequate clothing; we have a strong focus on building a predictable routine for our children and building caring relationships quickly to help reduce the effects of the traumatic event. A unique focus of Aunt Martha’s remains our strong dedication to preserving the academic relationship and strides already achieved by our children. All too often our children experience long interruptions in their schooling, making progress that much harder when exiting the system. All CRC children participate in group and individual therapy, house meetings, on-site and off-site recreational programming, skill building and a variety of wellness activities on a weekly basis. Utilizing an Integrated Care Coordination approach, the CRC provides medical, dental, and psychiatric services to our youth as part of a multi-disciplinary approach to care, that enhances permanent placements. Our on -site Clinic and staff ensure our children are seen timely, at hours that limit academic interruptions and are provided services in a compassionate manner.

A primary role of the CRC is to immediately stabilize a child’s behavior, advocate for resources, secure key documents so staff can immediately build a safe, quality care environment, maintaining connections to family members whenever possible to limit the traumatic experience. These activities culminate in family reunification or the identification of a permanent living arrangement that is uniquely tailored to help the child succeed.

Our 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 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.

Part of our role to ensure child welfare is to strengthen and support families in order to protect children and prevent out-of-home placement. Our Intact Families program is designed for 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.