Village of Midlothian

Olympia Fields, IL:  Officials at Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness learned Tuesday that the organization is among the latest recipients of funding from the Live Healthy Chicago collaborative, which in May announced $5 million donation from The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation to accelerate efforts to assist communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The $50,000 grant will offset a portion of the cost of the negative air pressure system installed in April at Aunt Martha’s Children’s Quarantine Center (CQC), the state’s only facility designed to care specifically for foster children whose living situation is disrupted by the COVID-19.

“We are grateful to have the support of the team at Live Healthy Chicago and appreciate their understanding of the connection between the disproportionate representation of children of color in the DCFS system in Cook County and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 among African American and Latino communities,” said Raul Garza, Aunt Martha’s President and CEO.

Leveraging Aunt Martha’s healthcare and child welfare expertise

The CQC leverages Aunt Martha’s status as the only organization in Illinois to be both a licensed child welfare provider and Federally Qualified Health Center. It provides a home-like setting where DCFS youth who are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19 can be cared for and supervised around the clock until they can safely return to their prior placement.

The CQC represents Aunt Martha’s response to calls from DCFS for agencies with the capacity to safely care for youth in the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. The facility, which since 2011 had served as a supportive and transitional living program for homeless young adults, was redesigned to accommodate and isolate the children placed there.

Hospital-grade protection in a home-like environment

That work included the installation of a hospital-grade negative pressure ventilation system to control the spread of airborne pathogens. The use of negative pressure ensures infectious germs do not spread through the HVAC system from youth rooms to the rest of the facility.

“There are communities willing to turn their backs on, if not outright discriminate against these them; but it’s in Aunt Martha’s DNA to stand up, to make the necessary investments, to innovate and, when necessary, to fight for these kids,” said Garza.

“Our expertise is in blending – integrating – the best practices of child welfare with the best practices of community health care. That’s the work we do at the CQC, and we’re proud to call Live Healthy Chicago our partner.”

About Aunt Martha’s

Aunt Martha’s serves over 105,000 children and adults each year with more than 35 sites, including 23 community health centers spread across nine counties. The agency’s integrated health home model offers value-based, coordinated services, delivering whole person wellness through the integration of primary and behavioral health care and linkages to additional support services that address social determinants of health. Aunt Martha’s has been continuously accredited by The Joint Commission since 1997.

About Live Healthy Chicago

Live Healthy Chicago is a community-based collaborative comprised of Forty Acres Fresh Market, The MAAFA Redemption Project, My Block My Hood My City, Rush University Medical Center, and West Side United. Its mission is to address the immediate wellness of seniors and high-risk populations in target Chicago communities experiencing the highest COVID-19 disparities and food insecurities. Its members are committed to dismantling the systemic racial and health inequities prevalent in target communities by implementing, funding and sustaining immediate, long term and collective tactics.

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Media Contact

Rick Meza
Meza Law
(708) 321-4693

Olympia Fields, IL:  Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness announced today that the UIC John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic has joined the organization’s continued effort to operate the state’s first and only children’s quarantine center for Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) youth in care affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UIC John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic will serve as co-counsel in a federal lawsuit filed by Aunt Martha’s on May 12 asserting that the Village of Midlothian has engaged in discriminatory actions in violation of the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

Emergency order prevents shuttering of quarantine center for DCFS kids

On May 27, the US District Court granted the organization’s request for an Emergency Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) prohibiting the Village from shutting down the Children’s Quarantine Center (CQC). Earlier this week it was extended for 60 days.

“Aunt Martha’s has always stood up for the most vulnerable members of the communities we serve, especially DCFS youth in care, most of whom are African American and Latino,” said Raul Garza, the agency’s President and CEO. “We believe there are important civil rights issues involved in this case, and we’re proud to have the Clinic’s team on our side in this effort.”

The Legal Team

As co-counsel, the Fair Housing Legal Clinic will offer its extensive fair housing related background and expertise in eliminating discriminatory practices and will help represent Aunt Martha’s in all aspects of this litigation.

Ricardo Meza of Meza Law will continue to serve as lead counsel. The Fair Housing Legal Clinic joins Roger Derstine of Roger B. Derstine, Chartered, Homero Tristan of Tristan & Cervantes, and Sohil Shah of Posinelli, PC as co-counsel.

About Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness, Inc.

Aunt Martha’s serves over 105,000 children and adults each year. It has over 35 sites, including 23 community health centers spread across nine counties. The agency’s integrated health home model offers value-based, coordinated services that deliver whole person wellness through the integration of primary and behavioral health care, as well as links support services that address social determinants of health. Aunt Martha’s has been accredited by the Joint Commission since 1997.

About the UIC John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Support Center and Clinic

The primary goals of UIC John Marshall’s Fair Housing Legal Support Center & Clinic are:

  • Educate the public about fair housing law, and
  • Provide legal assistance to those private or public organizations that seek to eliminate discriminatory housing practices.

The clinic opened in 1993. Since then it has helped thousands Chicago area clients who were denied housing because of discrimination. Funding for the Clinic is provided in part by a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Media Contact

Rick Meza
Meza Law
(708) 321-4693

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