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No Longer Silent

“You are the strongest person to ever sit in that chair,” Judge Ericka Sanders said to 16-year-old Bailey*. Bailey and her team of OHU counselors listened intently as Judge Sanders went on to praise Bailey for sharing her story of trauma and abuse, and bravely taking the next step in her healing process.   

Bailey’s testimony comes three years after that of her twin sister, Bree*, who testified in court to the horrific abuse both girls endured at the hands of their adoptive father. This man is now in prison for the sexual assault of Bree that resulted in a pregnancy at the age of 13, and for the kidnapping of Bree and her son, Eli*. In the same year that Bree became pregnant, the girls lost their mother to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that also inhabits Bailey’s body.   

Because Bree was the only victim identified in the case, Bailey was denied the opportunity to testify at their adopted father’s trial. For three years, Bailey has carried the weight of this forced silence with her. She has since been placed at One Hope United’s Centralia residential home for a second time after struggling with self-harm, suicidal ideations, and depression.  

In February of 2020, Bailey’s counselors had an idea. The team wondered what would be different for Bailey if she could rewrite her narrative. What if she could tell her story to someone who could make real changes in the system? How would life be different for Bailey if she had her day in court? Judge Ericka Sanders, the Marion County Juvenile Judge, agreed that Bailey deserved this opportunity.  

Judge Sanders has made great efforts to prioritize the mental health of any youth who comes into her courtroom. Knowing Judge Sanders’ propensity to be an agent of change, Bailey’s care team reached out to her with a novel idea. The team wanted to bring Bailey to the courthouse to testify in front of a judge and to share the story she had been unable to tell three years prior. Within 15 minutes of the email being sent, Judge Sanders responded saying she would be honored to help.   

Two weeks later, Judge Sanders met with Bailey’s care team at a local coffee house to iron out the details. OHU counselors Jayme Godoyo, Sarah Downen, Brandon Newcomer, and Jessica Perry shared more details of Bailey’s story with Judge Sanders. They agreed that Bailey’s court session should be treated as if it were a real court session, complete with Judge Sanders in her black robe and calling court into session for The People vs. Bailey’s abuser. Judge Sanders also shared with the team that the courthouse now has access to a therapy dog, and that it would be a good idea for Bailey to first practice being in the courtroom. The team agreed Bailey would love this idea, and it would be the perfect opportunity for the dog to use his skills.   

On the day of Bailey’s court session, Judge Sanders offered her the choice to sit at a table or in the witness stand. Without hesitating, Bailey chose the witness stand.   

When Bailey took her seat to the left side of the judge, she paused for a moment. Bailey was given the space and silence she needed to collect herself as her counselor, Jayme Godoyo, took a seat next to her. Quietly, Jayme provided Bailey the comfort she needed to regain her composure. Not sure where to begin, Jayme encouraged Bailey to start with her earliest memory.  

The adults in the room sat silent and still, fighting back tears at times, as Bailey took the next thirty minutes to tell the story she had waited years to tell. With Jayme at her side, Bailey recounted the abuse she endured, the devastation she felt over her mom’s death, and the guilt she still carries with her today because she couldn’t stop her sister Bree’s sexual assault. “I’m protective of her,” Bailey said. “I’m happy we have Eli [Bree’s son], but I’m sad she got pregnant.”   

When Bailey finished, she looked out onto the small crowd of people and said, “does anyone have any questions?” The conviction in her tone was that of a young woman in control of a room. When asked what advice she would give to other young girls who may have shared similar experiences, without hesitation Bailey softly but strongly stated, “Keep fighting…always keep fighting.”   

*Names have been changed to protect privacy. 

 LEARN MORE ABOUT OHU’S RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS

Hope for the Holidays

“Someday, I want my kids to live in a house like this,” Michael said, looking around at the three-story renovated home for the first time.

Michael had just toured One Hope United’s new residential home, called Hope House, in Fort Lauderdale. He told house parents he had never stepped foot in a place like this before. Dancing around, he confidently stated he wants to do what’s right, so he can live somewhere like this when he grows up.

Before moving into Hope House, Michael faced many struggles. Michael is a dually involved teenager, which means he’s interacted with both the child welfare and juvenile detention systems in his young life. Dually involved young people often face a high level of difficulty obtaining a placement in foster care, significant barriers to achieving permanency and are at a higher risk for lengthy stays in detention facilities.

Hope House is uniquely positioned to serve young people aged 14-17 like Michael. The staff ratio at Hope House is 4:1, which means more individualized attention from house parents. In choosing a property, Sarah Tunning, Executive Director of OHU’s services in Florida, wanted to provide “a really nice home environment for the young men, first and foremost.”

One Hope United focuses on making sure the environment at Hope House is not only inclusive, but it sets youth up for success. For example, when a young person is placed at Hope House, they first go to a local retail store with one of their house parents, so they can choose the right hygiene products for their unique skin and hair needs. In other group home or foster care placements, these young men may have had to use whatever personal care products were on hand in the home, even if it irritated their skin or wasn’t right for their hair. Then, they go out to dinner with a house parent, where they discuss strategies that will help them grow and develop in the coming months.

After they settle into their new home, these young men focus on independent living skills like improving academic performance, getting a part-time job, and opening a savings account. “Our goal is that when these young men turn 18, they’re on a college or career path, and they’ve strengthened healthy relationships with their family members and mentors in the area,” Sarah shared.

Sarah has noticed strong connections forming already between the youth currently living at Hope House. Two of the young men living in the house, Matthew and Ben, developed a strong friendship in just a few weeks. When Matthew had a mental health episode and had to go to the hospital, Ben made sure to look after his things while he was gone.

“These are kids that are used to fighting for everything,” Sarah said. “We want them to feel they are safe here, and to know their house parents really care about them.”

To celebrate the holidays, the young men living at Hope House will enjoy a special meal prepared by their house dad who loves to cook. Then, they’ll play board games together in the living room, lit by their Christmas tree.

You can purchase specific items requested by house parents and the young men living at Hope House here. You can also learn about our other residential programs at this link.

*names of the young men living at Hope House have been changed to protect privacy. 

SUPPORT HOPE HOUSE   OHU RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS

One Hope United Hosts ‘Foster Boy’ Screening and Talkback

One Hope United partnered last week with attorney and producer/writer Jay Paul Deratany to host a screening of his new film, Foster Boy, followed by a talkback and reception.

Foster Boy tells the story of an African American teenager who was physically and sexually abused by an older foster care teen after the two were placed in the same home by a for-profit foster care company.

View the event photos on our Facebook page here

As a nonprofit agency providing foster care services, One Hope United hosted the screening to share the powerful film with its supporters and bring attention to the danger that arises when organizations put profits ahead of children’s well-being.

“A child is not a commodity,” Deratany told a capacity audience at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. “You have to give a kid a chance. You have to give them some hope.”

The movie was inspired by three true foster care abuse cases in which Deratany was involved and stars Matthew Modine as the attorney and Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr. as the judge. Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, a child advocate himself who took a special interest in the movie’s topic, is an executive producer.

In the talkback, moderator Charles A. Montorio-Archer, President and CEO of One Hope United, asked Deratany about the role of the arts in raising awareness about this and other serious topics.

“We have to tell stories of abuse, we have to tell stories about racial prejudice, we have to tell stories that bring us back together as a country, that unite us again,” Deratany answered. We have to come together to conquer some of the problems that we have.”

Melissa Webster, One Hope United’s Executive Director of Residential and Day Treatment Services, spoke on the panel about the film’s realistic depiction of the effects of trauma on youth.

“One thing that trauma robs from kids is that sense that they have a future,” said Webster. “A big part of what we do is help them find that hope so they can start to see that they’re going to have a future as well, that they have a chance to have a different kind of life.”

“One Hope United does some great work,” Deratany said. “We have to give recognition to a great group like this, because we need to continue to fight for our kids.”

To support children in foster care who have experienced trauma, you may donate to One Hope United here.

 

More Information

Become a One Hope United foster parent.

Visit the Foster Boy website.

Read an interview with Jay Paul Deratany.

Watch a video from the event.

Annual Meeting Features Deputy Gov. Sol Flores, New Board Leadership Announced

Illinois Deputy Governor Sol Flores (pictured above) offered high praise to One Hope United during the Annual Meeting of the 124-year-old social service organization. Speaking to more than 60 staff, board members, donors and community supporters at the yearly event held at The University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall, Flores provided an inspiring message of hope.

“While I’ve only been on the job for 4 ½ months,” Flores said, “I’m absolutely certain the state needs leaders and organizations like One Hope United to continue and expand your work on strengthening children, families and communities.”

One Hope United’s Annual Meeting was also streamed to hundreds of viewers on Facebook Live for the first time as the organization continues to provide more opportunities to communicate and engage with stakeholders and the public.

Flores recounted lessons from her hard-working single mother, who taught Flores the meaning of responsibility. Flores said despite her mother working two jobs, she still needed assistance from numerous social service programs, such as those provided by One Hope United.

As Deputy Governor, Flores oversees the $35 billion portfolio of health and human services in Illinois where she says, “Twelve million Illinoisians are touched by the delivery of our Health and Human Services system either through direct assistance or the benefit of that investment in our neighbors, our workplaces, communities and families.”

“When we stop criminalizing and judging people and families for circumstances like poverty and homelessness, we can instead begin to focus on uplifting and investing in their maximum human potential and dignity,” Flores said.

One Hope United’s President & CEO, Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer outlined his vision, building upon the organization’s expertise, solidarity, distinguished service and support in areas of social service, early learning, foster care and adoption.

“Together we must all understand what we do – and equally what we do not do – changes the trajectory of the lives of children and families,” he said.

In her last official address, One Hope United Board Chairwoman Theresa Dear proudly shared the board’s many accomplishments, including its diverse makeup of 50% women and 45% people of color. From the hiring of President & CEO Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer, to the establishment of the One Hope United Future Scholars Scholarship, Dear is confident the organization is poised to continue living its mission.

“One Hope United aspires to be a premier thought leader and service provider where every child and family regardless of zip code, skin color, religion, socioeconomic status, pronoun, can indeed experience a life without limits,” Dear said as she thanked everyone for the opportunity to serve.

Also during the annual meeting, Chairwoman Dear announced the new leadership team taking the helm of One Hope United as it begins its new fiscal year. Beginning July 1, long-time board member RJ Young, Retired Chairman, Allstate Canada, is Board Chairman; Anthony Austin, VP, Human Resources of Portillo’s Hot Dogs, is Vice Chairman; Cindy Lusignan, Senior Vice President at Marsh, is Treasurer; and Kate Shaffer, Risk Management Officer for Yargus Manufacturing, Inc. is Secretary.

Chairwoman Dear also detailed the numerous agency accomplishments in the past year.

  • While many non-profit and for profit boards struggle with diversity, the One Hope United board composition is 50% female and 45% people of color.
  • Established the One Hope United Future Scholars Scholarship.
  • Named a wing of the Edgewater Center as the Toni Sandor Smith Future Scholars Learning Lab, after one of the longest serving board members.
  • Named the organization’s Lake Villa Campus after the first client who ascended to the position of board member, Ermit L. Finch.
  • Established the M&A committee to posture One Hope United for potential growth.
  • Created a model for stakeholder, community and leadership engagement in the President’s Circle and Friends of One Hope United.
  • Established Life Director and Emeritus status for exemplary, extraordinary and distinctive leadership on the board. Life Director and Chair Emeritus – Toni Smith. Ermit Finch – Life Director.
  • Hired Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer.
  • Completed election of new and incoming officers.

Supporters Gather to Share ‘Why I Have Hope’ at Hope In Action Fundraiser

One Hope United thanks the 250 supporters who attended Hope In Action:Why I Have Hope gala on Friday, May 3rd, at the Hilton Chicago and who helped drive opportunity and impact for children and families! We’re very appreciative for their presence and immense support that has been shown to our organization. We are even closer to fulfilling our vision: For every child and family, life without limits.
Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer, President & CEO

“In this work of human dignity, human respect and human acknowledgement, the mission building and mission movement work at One Hope United requires that we draw community closer,” Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer said.  “You are our community. And by being with us – together with us – this community will empower others to live Life Without Limits. Join me, join us, Turn Hope Into Action.”

Among the highlights of the night were the presentations of the Ermit Finch Impact Award to Nannie Crudup (below), The Chairwoman’s Award to Patrick Kingston, The President’s Award to Todd Schultz, and the Turn Hope Into Action award to Marc D. Smith.
Nannie Crudup received the Ermit Finch Award
Check out the sights and sounds of Hope In Action: Why I Have Hope, featuring music by special guest Mario Bonds.

Visit us on Facebook to view all of the fun photos from the night. Be sure to tag yourself and your friends!

A big thank you to all who came out to hear “Why I Have Hope” stories and helped make the evening such a success. Didn’t have the chance to raise your paddle at Hope In Action 2019? You can still support OHU by clicking here.

One Hope United Names Lake Villa Campus for Ermit L. Finch

ABOVE Ermit L. Finch (right) is joined by his wife, Jonni Miklos (left), and One Hope United Board Chair Theresa A. Dear (center) at the ceremony to dedicate the Lake Villa campus in his name.

Finch lived on campus from 1948 to ’51 and became first former client to serve on One Hope United’s Board.

One Hope United has named its Lake Villa, Ill., campus after a former resident and current board member Ermit L. Finch. The Board of Directors hosted a ceremony to dedicate the Ermit L. Finch Campus at Lake Villa on Friday, April 26, attended by the Board, staff of the campus, friends and family of Finch, and Lake Villa’s Mayor James McDonald.

Read about the ceremony and Finch’s life in the Lake County News-Sun.

Finch took up residence at One Hope United campus (then Central Baptist Children’s Home) in 1948, following a harrowing childhood in Arkansas. (Watch The Impact of Ermit Finch video below.)

Finch was born in Little Rock, Ark., in 1934 to a furniture salesman and homemaker. Both parents contracted tuberculosis in the 1940s and went to sanatoriums, after which he saw his father once a week and communicated with his mother, who was sent to New Mexico, only by letter. Her death in 1945 precipitated his father’s death less than 30 days later.

After a short time living and working on his uncle’s farm, where Finch acquired the nickname “Cotton”—the farm’s signature crop—for his white hair, Finch transferred to an Arkansas orphanage where the conditions were difficult and the discipline severe. Finch, small for his age, was bullied, and boys were frequently whipped and denied meals.

A change in leadership to Dr. Louis B. Snider vastly improved Finch’s quality of life, and Finch eventually came with Snider’s family to Lake Villa, Ill., when Snider took a position at what is today One Hope United. Finch has fond memories of life on campus, which included group meals, singing, riding horses, and tending to chickens. “The expansiveness of this place, and the lake—it was paradise,” he recalls. “This was a growth time. It felt good. You liked yourself. Somebody else liked you.”

“Ermit personifies One Hope United’s vision: For every child and family, a life without limits,” said President and CEO Charles A. Montorio-Archer. “His story speaks to the potential in each of us to overcome hardship and trauma when we have the right support. I’m thrilled to recognize him with the dedication of the Ermit L. Finch Campus at Lake Villa.”

The support Finch received at One Hope United led Finch to academic and personal success. While on campus, he learned to read and graduated from Antioch High School, where he played tuba in the marching band. He went on to attend the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago, returning to the campus in the summers to live and work. He would raise his own family and lead a successful business career in heating, air conditioning and residential construction.

“Ermit’s undefeatable, unbreakable, and unstoppable spirit has been an unending source of inspiration at One Hope United,” said Board Chair Theresa A. Dear.

In 2003, Finch revisited the campus and resumed his connection to the place where he spent the happiest years of his childhood. He joined the Board of Directors of One Hope United in 2004, the first former resident to do so.

“It was a blessing to be exposed and to have the opportunity” to live and thrive on the campus, Finch said at the ceremony. “I’m wonderfully honored.”

One Hope United has operated the Ermit L. Finch campus since 1948. Today it is home to the CARE Residential Program, which serves as many as 50 young boys and teenagers between the ages of 9 to 18 years old who don’t have a biological or foster family to live with. The campus also includes a Therapeutic Day School, attended by young men from the campus and the surrounding communities.

One Hope United’s 5th Annual Gala, Hope In Action: Why I Have Hope

One Hope United’s 5th Annual Gala, Hope In Action: Why I Have Hope, Features The Glee Project Alum Mario Bonds, May 3, 2019 at Hilton Chicago.

Guests will hear inspiring stories of hope and courage while enjoying a night of entertainment, dining and giving back.

CHICAGO — One Hope United, one of the country’s leading human services nonprofits, presents its 5th Annual Hope In Action gala, Friday, May 3, 2019 at the Hilton Chicago, featuring Mario Bonds, a national entertainer whose life symbolizes the meaning of hope. The 6 p.m. Why I Have Hope gala (5:30 p.m. VIP reception) is in the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom, 720 S. Michigan Ave.,. Tickets available at http://www.onehopeunited.org/hopeinaction.

Blind by the age of 10 and a survivor of childhood trauma, Mario Bonds is a motivational speaker, published author, singer-songwriter, and breakout star of NBC Universal’s The Glee Project.  Bonds’ unforgettable and powerful performance in song is living proof of how anyone can rise to meet any challenge.

Born with a degenerative condition that destroyed his eyesight, Bonds faced abuse, homelessness, and abandonment, yet, he never suffered from hopelessness. In his memoir, Without Sight but Full of Vision, Bonds describes how through hard work, perseverance, and personal responsibility we can all become “master of our destinies.” Bonds, who was adopted at the age of 16, is a licensed foster care provider in the process of adopting two teenage boys.

Also during Hope In Action: Why I Have Hope, One Hope United will honor extraordinary individuals who support the organization’s mission to provide every family and every child a “life without limits.”

They include 96-year-old volunteer Nannie Crudup, honored with the fifth annual Ermit Finch Impact Award.  Crudup is one of One Hope United’s most committed volunteers, giving her time nearly every school day for the past 26 years, helping the staff and three- to five-year-old children at One Hope United’s Bridgeport Child Development Center.

Patrick Kingston, Customer Development Manager at Tyson Foods will be recognized with One Hope United’s Chairwoman’s Award for his commitment to community advancement, empowering nonprofits, and inspiring leadership. Veteran One Hope United executive Todd Schultz, President of Restoration Ministries, will be honored with The President’s Award for his commitment to nonprofit stability, transparency, and leadership.

Guests at Hope In Action: Why I Have Hope will enjoy cocktails, a seated dinner, and the chance to bid on a wide variety of auction items. VIP ticket holders can meet Mario Bonds at a private reception preceding the gala.

“One Hope United is thrilled to welcome Mario Bonds, who understands the challenges and traumas that many of our clients face, and whose resilience is an inspiration and a testament to the types of services we provide,” says new President and CEO Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer.

“We’re also excited to add a new twist this year by debuting Hope After Dark, immediately following our gala at Hilton Chicago,” Montorio-Archer adds. “The after-event experience is the perfect complement to Hope In Action for supporters who might not typically attend a gala but love dressing up for a great cause.”

Hope After Dark, from 10 p.m. to midnight, is presented by One Hope United’s Chicago Ambassador Board and features a selection of beers, wines and cocktails, as well as live house and dance music provided by DJ Lady D. Hope After Dark tickets ($100) can be purchased in advance at https://onehopeunited.org/hopeafterdark, or when guests arrive at the Hilton Chicago Grand Ballroom. All tickets for the Hope In Action: Why I Have Hope Gala ($300, $400 VIP) include admission to Hope After Dark.

“Many young professionals have told us they want to support our event, while at the same time living within their charitable giving budgets,” says Mike Carpenter, One Hope United’s Chicago Ambassador Board Chair. “The Hope After Dark party appeals to a new and broader audience of donors and we hope it will become one of the highlights of the Spring gala season.”

WCIU TV reporter and host Jon Hansen will serve as Hope In Action’s Master of Ceremonies. Hansen is an Emmy-nominated reporter and a talk show host for WGN 720 AM and can be seen on WCIU’s The Jam and Now.Chicago.

Tickets for Hope in Action: Why I Have Hope are available here.

Tickets for Hope After Dark are available here.

One Hope United would like to thank the following Why I Have Hope sponsors for their support:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel George Architects          Grant Staff, Inc.       Michelle Damico Communications           StrateBen         Ultimate Software

Continental Benefits.       Terra Properties               WT Group

 

About One Hope United
One Hope United is a private human service organization that offers a diverse array of prevention, intervention and community-based programs including early education, foster care, adoption, residential, and other support services. What began in 1895 as a children’s home in Chicago now serves 9,000 children and families each year in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida and employs nearly 800 passionate and talented professionals. For more information, please visit http://www.onehopeunited.org.

One Hope United Names
Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer
President and CEO

Entrepreneur, author and attorney co-founded, led and merged nonprofit The THRIVE Network in New York City

One Hope United’s board of directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer as the organization’s President and CEO. Dr. Montorio-Archer, a successful New York nonprofit entrepreneur, child and family advocate, attorney and author assumed the leadership position last month following a national search.

Founded in Chicago in 1895 and based there to this day, One Hope United is one of the oldest and most respected human service nonprofits in the country. Today, the organization provides education, foster care, adoption, counseling, residential and other support services to over 9,000 children and families each year in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida.

Dr. Montorio-Archer co-founded The THRIVE Network in 1996 and served as its CEO for another 11 years before successfully merging the organization with The New York Foundling. THRIVE, which continues to operate under its own name, is a $36 million nonprofit organization that assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout New York City.

“Charles is a transformational leader who has demonstrated a passion for empowering all people to live with dignity and respect,” says Theresa A. Dear, Board Chair of One Hope United. “With his proven leadership, and his commitment to helping others reach their full potential, he is the ideal person to lead One Hope United to our next level of greatness as we work to help every child and family live life without limits.”

“I am thrilled to become part of the One Hope United family and community,” says Dr. Montorio-Archer. “When I began as a direct support professional in this industry over 25 years ago, I quickly recognized that, while our life circumstances may vary, we all want and deserve the same access to opportunity. That starts with the supports and services that One Hope United is so committed to providing – education, family support, a place to live and thrive, and connection to loved ones, as well as being recognized within our society. These are the building blocks to a life without limits, and I look forward to working with my new colleagues to help bring these to every child and family.”

Dr. Montorio-Archer has written three books, most recently Everybody Paddles: A Leader’s Blueprint for Creating A Unified Team, which provides a management model for reaching strategic alignment and accelerating organizational change through respect, collaboration and leadership. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Lincoln University, a Master’s degree in Public Administration from CUNY Baruch College, a JD from Brooklyn Law School and a PhD in public policy from Walden University. From 2001 to 2004, he served as Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, Brooklyn, NY. Then from 2004 to 2007, he served as the Associate Executive Director for the InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, where he advocated at the city, state, and federal levels for program development, business sustainability, and policy and regulatory reform.

In addition, Dr. Montorio-Archer has served on numerous boards, presented two TEDx Talks (“The Friendship Clause” and “IDENTITYphobia”), contributes to Forbes and Huffington Post, and has been featured on television, radio, print, and other media outlets.

Dr. Montorio-Archer succeeds Todd Schultz, who has been acting CEO for the last year. Schultz will remain a part of the Executive Leadership Team as the Chief Transition Officer.

About One Hope United
One Hope United is a private human service organization that offers a diverse array of prevention, intervention and community-based programs including early education, foster care, adoption, counseling, residential, and other support services. What began in 1895 as a children’s home in Chicago now serves 9,000 children and families each year in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida and employs nearly 800 passionate and talented professionals. For more information, please visit www.onehopeunited.org.

MEDIA CONTACT
Michelle Damico
Michelle Damico Communications
michelle@michelledamico.com
312-423-6627

10 One Hope United Early Education Centers Now NAEYC Accredited

Rigorous quality assessment puts OHU early learning centers in nation’s top 10 percent.

One Hope United now has 10 early education centers that have received accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)—the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children.

Waukegan Early Learning Center joins nine other One Hope United child care and early education centers that have already earned this prestigious mark of quality, including Aurora Early Learning Center, Elgin Child & Family Resource Center, and Sprouted Child Care & Early Education (Wilmette) . All of One Hope United’s eligible centers are now accredited or undergoing accreditation by NAEYC.

In the 30 years since NAEYC Accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized and coveted sign of high-quality early childhood education. Less than 10 percent of all child care centers, preschools, and kindergartens nationally achieve this recognition.

NAEYC Accreditation is a rigorous and transformative quality-improvement system that uses a set of 10 research-based standards across four categories—children, teaching staff, partnerships with families and communities, and administration—to recognize and drive holistic quality in early learning programs.

With guidelines for everything from teacher preparation to safety standards, NAEYC Accreditation ensures that programs are safe, well prepared, and intentional about ensuring children’s success. As a reputable indicator of quality, NAEYC Accreditation correlates with children’s greater readiness and success in school and beyond, increased educational attainment rates, and overall healthier lifestyles.

Find a NAEYC Accredited One Hope United center in your area:

Western Suburbs

City of Chicago

Northern Suburbs

*Opened in July 2016, Joliet Early Learning Center is still in the accreditation process.

      5 Things to Know about Head Start

      All parents want to provide the best opportunities for their children to learn, grow and thrive. This is especially true when it comes to education. No child should miss out on a quality education because of their family’s ability to pay.

      That’s why One Hope United is pleased to offer Head Start or Early Head Start programing at three of our child care and early education centers. These programs combine quality child care and education with other programing and resources to help set every child up for success:

      Not sure if your family is eligible? It’s easy to find out and One Hope United is here for you every step of the way.

      Here are five things you should know about the Head Start Program at One Hope United:

      1. Head Start Seeks to Give Every Child an Equal Chance

      Head Start, a federally funded program, is designed to give every child equal access to the resources and support they need. Established in 1965 for low-income families, Head Start promotes school readiness for children ages birth to five. These programs enhance children’s social and cognitive development by offering children and their families educational, nutritional, health, social and other services.

      The services Head Start provides are designed to set up children for success by the time they are ready to start kindergarten. One Hope United combines Head Start with child care assistance to provide a full day of early childhood care and education for families who are working or in school at a significantly reduced cost.

      2. It’s Easy to Find Out if You Qualify for Head Start

      There are four ways you and your child can qualify for Head Start:

      1. You meet the income qualifications, OR
      2. You receive public assistance, OR
      3. Your child is in foster care, OR
      4. You or your child lack permanent housing.

      Families with children from birth to age five who meet specific criteria in any one of these four categories can receive Head Start or Early Head Start programming. Families receiving public assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income), or families with low incomes, according to the Poverty Guidelines published by the Federal government, are eligible.

      One Hope United has family support specialists to assist families with the eligibility process. Families can either call or walk-in to one of the Bridgeport centers or the Waukegan center with proof of income and the child’s birth certificate. They will then fill out an application (One Hope United can provide assistance) and complete an interview. The family will soon receive a notice about their child’s/children’s eligibility. The eligibility/enrollment process can be started at anytime during the year.

      3. Parents Receive Support, Too!

      All Head Start families have a family support specialist that they work with for as long as they participate in the program. Assistance in finding medical providers, mental health professionals, and nutrition counseling are just some of the services that are provided. Plus, families receive two home visits that serve as building blocks to establishing a positive relationship.

      Many of One Hope United’s staff are bilingual. If there is a language barrier, One Hope United will provide translation support services. We want to clearly communicate with families so they understand the services they’re eligible for and feel comfortable with all we can provide.

      4. Parents Are Part of Their Child’s Education

      One Hope United families who are part of the Head Start program are actively involved with their child’s education by helping to set goals and determining how best to support their child.

      Parents and One Hope United teachers and staff have at least two parent conferences a year where assessments are reviewed, strengths are determined and priorities are set for continued development.

      5. We Offer Quality Education For All

      One Hope United’s Head Start locations in Bridgeport are accredited by NAEYC (The National Association of Education of Young Children), a distinction held by only 6% of centers in the country. A NAEYC accredited center is one that is recognized as providing exceptional care and a variety of educational, developmental, and personal services. All preschool classrooms are led by a licensed teacher who is certified to teach up to the third grade.

      The suburban Waukegan location is currently undergoing accreditation by NAEYC. This location offers Early Head Start services to low-income infants, toddlers and their families.

      At One Hope United it is our vision to help every child, every family live a life without limits. If you feel limited by the specific circumstances that makes your family eligible for Head Start, please contact one of our centers today or use the form below.

      Contact Us