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.

The Integrated Care Center (ICC) represents the continued evolution of services that respond to the needs of abused and neglected youth. What was originally a “traditional” residential shelter setting and intake hub for DCFS youth in Cook County has – through advocacy and innovation – transformed into a physician-led, trauma-informed treatment setting specializing in caring DCFS youth with the most significant mental health needs.

The ICC’s innovative design incorporates Aunt Martha’s extensive experience working with the DCFS youth population, as well as the evidence-based, value-driven best practices that serve as the foundation for our industry-leading integrated care model.  In short, there is no other organization in Illinois with the depth of knowledge, scope of services, or proven ability to provide the level of care available at the Integrated Care Center.

Click here for more detailed information about the services available on-site and care coordination, medical, dental, mental health, and education/recreation services.

The services available to all youth placed at the ICC include:

  • On-site Medical Care
    • Primary care
    • Psychiatry
    • Nurses on-site 24/7
    • Dental (currently limited for pandemic-related precaution)
  • On-site Mental Health Services
    • Therapy
    • Crisis Counseling
    • Substance Use Counseling
    • ABA Therapy
  • Education & Recreation
    • Education (On-site and Off-site, with access to home school, as appropriate)
    • Recreation and Enrichment
  • Care Coordination

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.