By the time a family arrives at Family Promise, they've already exhausted all of their options to keep their family together on their own. They have no idea where they will go or what to do. They come to us worn out, discouraged, and scared. It's a frightening experience ... one that no family should have to endure.
Family Promise Chicago North Shore provides families with young children who are homeless, or at risk for becoming homeless, with a supported pathway to self-sufficiency. By providing both day and night time havens, nutritious meals, transportation, and social services to address issues that may have contributed to the situation, Family Promise gives parents a chance to focus on finding employment and provides guidance to create a plan to return to permanent housing. And, by utilizing existing community resources such as local congregations for nighttime accommodations and numerous community volunteers who provide meals, we are able to be very cost efficient.
How it works
There are five key components to the Family Promise model:
- Hosts Hosting rotates weekly among the host congregations in our Network. In turn, each host congregation provides lodging, three meals daily, and hospitality.
- Day Center Guests use the Family Promise Day Center from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, where our network director, a social service professional, provides case management services. There, guests pursue employment, tend pre-school children, shower, and do laundry. The day center provides guests with a mailing address and a base for housing and employment searches. Many guests are employed during the day, and older children attend school.
- Volunteers Volunteers are the heart of the program. They can share their time and talents in many ways, usually just for a few hours every three months, by cooking and serving meals, playing with children and helping them with homework, staying overnight with guest families, or helping guests with resume writing.
- Social Service Agencies Local social service agencies refer families to our program. The agencies may also help guests find housing, jobs, and benefits.
- Transportation Our Family Promise van transports guests to and from the day center.
Our strategy is to focus our resources on only three to four families at a time, greatly increasing the chances for a long-term positive outcome. Families participate in our program for approximately 3 months. During this time, our director and social work specialists work with parents to help them learn how to manage their finances and create a plan to save enough money for a security deposit, review the cost of living expenses, and create an overall strategy on how to find suitable housing and make it work.
And it's working! Nearly 85% of families transition out of homelessness into housing, usually within 3 -4 months. This holistic approach to keeping families together while helping them to gain a sturdy foundation and find permanent housing has been successful across the nation for more than twenty years.