Family Team Conferencing helps family of six remain together after year-long separation

Her home was filled with hope. After more than a year in out-of-home care, Jacinta Brown’s five children returned home.

But soon, new allegations arose of environmental hazards, inadequate supervision and substance abuse in the Brown family home. So Jacinta and her family were referred for Family Team Conferencing at One Hope United (OHU).

The OHU Family Case Manager Ansonio Mitchell and Supervisor Yolanda Walker worked with Jacinta to identify family supports, which included her father and two members of the community. The family supports as well as the children’s therapist would all be a part of the Family Team Conferencing meetings with the family.

At the first meeting, Jacinta identified her goals, which were to obtain an education, a new home, get a job, a car, remain drug free and explore her spirituality. The team helped Jacinta to identify the strengths of the family and what was needed to help Jacinta achieve the goals that would help keep her family together.

All team members were focused on the safety and well-being of the children. Additional meetings were held as a follow up and to identify any new needs that arose to help the mother achieve her goals and ensure safety of the children. Updates of the progress made were listed and the mother appeared to feel that she was moving ahead. Jacinta trusted the process, allowing the team to build rapport. She openly assisted in the identification of her needs and was excited about the meetings and seeing results.

“Jacinta accepted guidance, ideas, hints and suggestions that will help her to achieve her goals,” said Ida Rivera, OHU family team coordinator. “There was no judgment made and what was available to her was support.  Jacinta was able to see the plan not as added services or tasks, but as the steps that will allow her to achieve her life goals.”

Jacinta became confident in her abilities to independently reach out and build new connections in her community, and her protective capacity in regards to her children visibly grew. She assumed an active role in their academics and supported the importance of addressing the children’s emotional and mental health needs.

The team process provided Jacinta with access to new resources and helped her develop a commitment to give back to her community—strengthening herself as a woman, as a mother and as a member of society. She obtained her driver’s license, developed a strong support system at the church that she and her family attend, and practiced her newfound respect for her body and soul.

Jacinta participates in her neighborhood community watch program and attends General Equivalency Diploma (GED) classes.

“Many of us might think those steps are small, but to a woman who had a difficult childhood and saw herself as a person without a future, those steps represent her achievements and open a future and a life for her and her children,” said Will Jones, senior vice president at OHU – Florida Region.

The team process could not be successful without the contribution and commitment of each team member, which were willing to go the extra mile to assist the mother and family.

The child care provider, Little Citizens Day Care owner Donna Reed, was available to Jacinta after closing times. Jacinta could reach out to Donna at any time.

The neighborhood community builder, Hopes and Dreams Team and its Director Melody Hills, chose Jacinta as a speaker for a community meeting. This helped build Jacinta’s self-confidence through sharing her newly discovered public speaking skills and allowed her a chance to encourage others through her new found hope.

The Family Team Conferencing process and dedicated team members along with Jacinta’s passion toward her goal of self-improvement and keeping her family together ultimately resulted in successful closure of the case.

Today, Jacinta is drug-free, has a stronger bond with her children and improved her protective capacities to ensure that the family remains safe and together. She has developed an insight into her addiction, has taken responsibility for the impact her behavior had on her children and the risk she placed them in. She developed personal satisfaction by trusting herself.

The goals of the team were measurable and the outcomes were a direct result of the agency involvement. Today the family has the tools to continue to care for themselves and thrive in the community without agency support.

Oktoberfest at the Art Gallery raised more than $20,000 for One Hope United

Pictured from left to right are Jonathan Zeibarth, president and founder of the Auxiliary Board; Lauren Lavorato, secretary; Matthew London, vice president; and Grant Wilson, treasurer.

The recently formed One Hope United – Northern Region Auxiliary Board held their first event, Oktoberfest at the Art Gallery, on Oct. 21 and raised more than $20,000 for the programs of the nonprofit agency, which serves more than 15,000 at-risk children and families each year. More than 150 young Chicago professionals mingled at Gallery KH in Chicago’s River North Gallery District, admired artwork from emerging artists, tasted seasonal beer, sipped wine and bid on silent auction items with all the proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships and auction items sold going straight back to the Chicago community through One Hope United.

The Auxiliary Board’s mission is to provide an opportunity for young professionals in the Chicago area to become involved in furthering One Hope United’s mission of protecting children and strengthening families. One Hope United offers a diverse array of prevention, intervention and community-based support programs to vulnerable, high-risk populations throughout Chicagoland including counseling for abused and neglected children, residential treatment for troubled teens, and high-quality early learning and education centers for infants, toddlers and school age children.

This event was also made possible by our generous sponsors: Kirkland & Ellis, Goldberg Kohn, GTCR, Alvarez & Marsal, Winston & Strawn, Greenberg Traurig, Waud Capital, Noodles & Company and The Lucas Group.

Photos from the Oktoberfest event are available at www.flickr.com/1hopeunited.

Cardinals Care Grant allows Centralia Residential youth to visit Six Flags

Kaleigh Dunahee and Julian Collings also enjoy Fright Fest at Six Flags along with the OHU youth.

Several youth in One Hope United’s Centralia Residential program received the opportunity to visit Six Flags in northern Illinois thanks to a Cardinals Care Grant. Cardinals Care is the nonprofit foundation of the St. Louis Cardinals, which has distributed more than $14 million to support organizations in and around St. Louis since its inception in 1997.

Generous donations such as this, give our youth opportunities to have experiences they would not otherwise have prior to residing at OHU.

“It gives them an opportunity to learn how to try their new behavioral skills in a larger arena, with greater variables,” said Melissa Webster, residential supervisor at OHU. “Even more importantly, having the ability for special trips helps increase youth’s self-confidence.”

Like all OHU activities, only youth who worked successfully with in their program and earned the highest level of success get the opportunity to participate in this type of activity. The children and teens in OHU’s programs really appreciate the special nature of a Six Flags trip: generally, activities include physical fitness in the park, bowling and movies.

One Hope United is so grateful for the Cardinal Cares Grant, which allowed us to offer our youth these adventures—thank you!

All aboard! Springfield Foster Grandparent Program travels to Hannibal, MO

The Springfield Foster Grandparent Program enjoyed traveling to Hannibal, MO this week for their group bus trip. The ladies were treated to a lovely lunch aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat accompanied by music and a question and answer session with the Captain and his wife. Even though their sight-seeing tour was cancelled on account of wind, the group improvised and decided to travel to Sawyer’s Creek to enjoy the Christmas, candy and popcorn shops. The group of 36 volunteers ended the night with dinner at Cracker Barrel and then boarded the bus back home.

One Hope United is so appreciative of the hard work that our foster grandparents do every day, and this was a wonderful chance to show them our appreciation for their committment to serving the emotional and academic needs of hundreds of children every school year.

Mt. Vernon foster grandparents dress up in character for Red Ribbon Week

At Field Grade School in Illinois, foster grandparents from One Hope United’s Mt. Vernon Foster Grandparent Program participated in story book dress-up day to celebrate Red Ribbon Week. The students, teachers and foster grandparents picked their favorite book, and then dressed to represent the characters in the book.

Foster grandparents pictured from left to right: Earleen Apgar dressed as a cowgirl, Ida Mae Jackson dressed as a pilgrim and Gene Shirley dressed as Mother Hubbard.

Bridgeport Child Development Center II earns national NAEYC Accreditation

Bridgeport Child Development Center II, a program of One Hope United, located in Chicago has earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals.

“We’re proud to have earned the mark of quality from NAEYC, and to be recognized for our commitment to reaching the highest professional standards,” said Brigette Davis, director of Bridgeport Center II. “NAEYC Accreditation lets families in our community know that children in our program are getting the best care and early learning experiences possible.” The Chicago child care center offers Toddler/Twos, Preschool, School Age and Summer Camp programs.


To earn NAEYC Accreditation, Bridgeport Child Development Center II went through an extensive self-study process, measuring the program and its services against the ten NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and more than 400 related Accreditation Criteria.  The program received NAEYC Accreditation after an on-site visit by NAEYC Assessors to ensure that the program meets each of the ten program standards.  NAEYC-accredited programs are also subject to unannounced visits during their accreditation, which lasts for five years.

In the 25 years since NAEYC Accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education.  More than 7,000 programs are currently accredited by NAEYC—approximately eight percent of all preschools and other early childhood programs.

“The NAEYC Accreditation system raises the bar for child care centers and other early childhood programs,” said Jerlean E. Daniel, Ph.D, executive director of NAEYC. “Having earned NAEYC Accreditation is a sign that Bridgeport Child Development Center II is a leader in a national effort to invest in high-quality early childhood education.”

The NAEYC Accreditation system has set voluntary professional standards for programs for young children since 1985.  In September 2006, the Association revised program standards and criteria to introduce a new level of quality, accountability, and service for parents and children in child care programs.  The new standards today reflect the latest research and best practices in early childhood education and development. NAEYC is committed to utilizing the newest studies and analysis on positive child outcomes to ensure young children continue receiving the highest-quality care and education possible.

The NAEYC Accreditation system was created to set professional standards for early childhood education, and to help families identify high-quality preschools, child care centers and other early education programs.  To earn NAEYC Accreditation, a program must meet each of the ten NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards.  Programs are accredited by NAEYC for a five-year period.

For more information about NAEYC Accreditation, visit www.naeyc.org/academy.

Florida Region's Circuit 10 collected 1,000 books for children in care

Keila Caban, family case manager in Circuit 10, organized a children’s book drive to benefit children in One Hope United’s care. The drive was held from September 20 – October 18, 2010 with an initial goal to collect 150 children’s books.

Keila and her helpers smashed their goal! More than 1,000 books were collected and distributed to the children and families served by One Hope United in Highlands and Hardee counties. The purpose of the drive was to promote reading to the children, parents and caregivers active in Circuit 10’s programs; thus, enhancing literacy in the community served.

Keila went to several homes early this week to personally deliver the books.

“All of the children were so excited and it made me feel good to know that I was a part of that process,” said Keila. “It was an amazing feeling. I encourage all case managers to take books to the children on their cases. You won’t regret it. Promote literacy to children in care.”

Thank you Keila for your initiative!

Pictured from left to right: Lia Rodriguez, Keila Caban and Brooke Anderson.

Teens Take the Lead in Strengthening Families

The One Hope United Pickus Infant/Toddler Center, in partnership with the Alternative Optional Education Center (AOEC) in the Waukegan School district, has provided teen cafes since last year as part of the Strengthening Families program. On September 15 and 16, three teen parents participated in a Teen Café Training Institute along with 13 professionals from various agencies throughout Lake and Kane Counties. As a result of this training, they are now able to facilitate and host teen cafes both within our agency and through other Strengthening Families Illinois networks.

On October 13, we began a new series of teen cafes at AOEC and two of the teens took lead roles in facilitating this café. The feedback from the teens who participated captured the effectiveness of the facilitation by the teen leaders.

This café focused on ‘taking care of yourself’ and some of the comments were:
“I learned that you need to be careful who you surround yourself with.”
“It was hard at first to talk around people you don’t know, but then you begin to feel comfortable.”
“I feel better because I needed to talk to someone. I need to build positive relationships.”
“Keeping your family together is important.”
“You have to be strong in order to succeed.”
“I’ve come a long way.”

Some of the words they used to describe this experience were awesome, relaxing, inspired, motivating, encouraging and comfortable.

Bonnie Becker, director of programs for Strengthening Families, says, “My own word to describe the experience was ‘humbled’ and I truly was. I was so impressed with the commitment that our teen leaders showed and how seriously they take their role. This is only the first step in their journey towards real leadership, and I am so proud that One Hope United is able to support them in this way.”

Staff Appreciation Week at Bridgeport Child Development Center II in Chicago

Mr. Mathew reads “The Giving Tree” to the children at Bridgeport Child Development Center II in Chicago, a program of One Hope United. The reading was part of a week long staff appreciation event. The staff and children at the Chicago day care center also created a giving tree featuring all the things the children are thankful for in regards to their teachers. The tree is displayed in the entrance way of the Center.

First Baptist Church generously donates bedding for Centralia Campus residents

Pictured: Melissa and Jim Webster, and Reverend Michael Skinner.

Melissa Webster, supervisor of the Hudelson Residential Campus in Centralia, was recently a guest at the First Baptist Church in Hillsboro, Illinois. The Reverend Michael Skinner invited Melissa to speak about the services the Residential Campus provides as well as receive some very special gifts for the residents on behalf of the church.

The First Baptist congregation collected almost thirty pillows, throw pillows and comforters—more than one for each youth residing on the Residential Campus. They made certain each youth received their own bedding.

This gift was the result of visits by members of the church to the Centralia campus. Most have been lifelong Baptists, and remember making different types of contributions to Hudelson throughout the years. The visitors wanted to see the treatment provided and the environment in which the youth live on campus.

The Hudelson Residential Campus wishes to thank the gracious members of the First Baptist Church for their gifts, their prayers and their wholehearted generosity.