ChildServ Success Stories
Our success comes when kids and their families are put first. Read how your gift to ChildServ is creating better lives.
It’s been a tough road with many hardships for Rachel, but with the help of ChildServ, this loving mother has overcome many obstacles. Rachel started to build her life from the ground up with a parent educator from ChildServ’s Parent Empowerment Program: Liljana Patzke.
Before she came to ChildServ, Rachel was struggling to find a house she could call home. She had tragically lost one of her young children and began to struggle emotionally. She became pregnant and had health complications that caused her to lose her house and eventually seek a homeless shelter. Because most homeless shelters all have a certain time limit of allowed stay, Rachel had difficulties finding a place to live before her time expired. Her circumstances became too much to handle by herself, and without a permanent residence, she lost custody of her two older children. Rachel knew she needed to get her life back on track, and she wanted to get back custody of her children. She found help in Liljana and ChildServ.
With Liljana’s encouragement and research, Rachel found a transitional apartment. The apartment gave Rachel hope and happiness, and represented her first step to getting back custody of her children. Liljana has helped Rachel with parenting her new baby, who was born prematurely. She connected her to a specialized program for children with developmental problems, and she also referred her to counseling so that she could work through her feelings about her past and the loss of her child.
Last, Liljana assists Rachel through the formal parent empowerment process provided through PEP, which ChildServ operates in Elgin, Carpentersville, Waukegan, Zion, Beach Park, Mundelein, neighborhoods within the city of Chicago, and Harvey and its surrounding communities. PEP works with parents to help them become better advocates for themselves and their children in the areas of education, health and social services. Through individual home visits and group activities, parent educators like Liljana work with parents on the best ways to nurture their children through a national, evidence-based early childhood curriculum. Staff educators also help families build an active social support network. Last year, 86% of the children in ChildServ’s PEP program were on-target for kindergarten, according to a national developmental assessment tool.
Today, Rachel is focused, empowered and working to get custody of her kids. She has become a political advocate for mothers who have been homeless, and continues to improve her life.
It's been a long road with many unexpected turns, but with the help of ChildServ, one Chicago teen has finally found the path to success.
Eighteen-year-old Grace first came to ChildServ in December of 2011. After being put into state custody at the age of 6, she experienced difficulties before finally being placed into a ChildServ group home.
Having been disappointed in previous placements, Grace believed her new home would be no different.
“I expected the worst for everything, everyday,” Grace said. “So when I arrived at the home, I was expecting staff who where only there for the money and broken kids that fought and yelled all day.”
Much to her surprise, the ChildServ home turned out to be anything but what she expected.
“[They] really cared,” she said. “They made sure I made it to my appointments and always asked if I was okay.”
However, even with the help of caring staff, Grace kept resorting to her old habits of drug and alcohol abuse.
“Both the school and staff were worried,” Grace said of her struggles with substance abuse. “One staff in particularl cooed over me. She cried and said that she was scared about me out there.”
With the help of a residential rehabilitation program, Grace was finally able to kick her addictions and return to ChildServ.
“I came home with a maturity and a new perspective on my own life,” she said. “I am worth more than I gave myself credit for. I have sisters that love me and adults that have stayed by my side through everything.”
“This was a long struggle and I am proud of who I am now,” Grace says. She credits her ChildServ mentors for helping her overcome her struggles and find the path to success. “Thank you for never giving up on me when I did. I would not be here if ChildServ hadn’t.”
*This photo is a representation. For the client’s privacy, her real name and photo have been changed.
An Adoption Story
A child’s birthday should always be a celebration. The day Keith* turned 2 years old was memorable, but for a different reason. It was the first time he met Brent and Melissa Sears, the couple who would eventually adopt both him and his sister, Christine. These siblings in foster care were placed in a permanent adoptive home through ChildServ’s partnership with the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK) program.
A 2006 grant from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption allowed ChildServ to become Chicagoland’s partnering agency with WWK, the foundation’s signature nationwide program. The program employs a child-focused model aimed at increasing the number of foster care adoptions. Keith and Christine were two of Therese McCleary Thompson’s first cases on the job. After 16 years of ChildServ casework, Thompson transitioned into her current role as ChildServ’s WWK adoption recruiter in 2012. She works to recruit foster parents whose goal is to adopt and to find appropriate pre-adoptive homes for children in foster care programs. The children had spent most of their lives living with a foster mom. Their biological mother suffers from extreme mental health issues. Their absentee biological father waived his visitation rights. The case was referred to WWK in the hopes of finding a pre-adoptive home for both children.
Thompson had a young couple on file she thought might be a good fit – the Sears. Adoption had been on Melissa Sears’ heart since high school and college. She married Brent in 2009, and together they began researching domestic adoption. During this process they found the WWK program. “We were eating at a Wendy’s and saw the sign,” she said. Wendy’s restaurants contribute to funding the program alongside the foundation. That sign ultimately led them to Thompson.
“[Melissa] said it was always something she wanted to do. She told her husband she wanted to adopt. That was always a goal of hers,” Thompson said. After consultations with the children’s caseworker and Thompson, the Sears met the children. Their visits continued for six months – a good sign. Everyone agreed it was a perfect match. Keith and Christine moved into the Sears’ Chicago home in December 2012. The Sears family is adjusting to life together well. Keith and Christine giggle and clamber over each other to show Thompson their toys when she stops by for a visit. Brent learned how to braid Christine’s hair. Her pink and white daisy hair clips rattle as she bounces on the living room couch and styles her doll’s hair. Keith pokes his head around the doorway, checking to see if he has an audience before dashin