SGA Youth & Family Services
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60603
Committed to Supporting Our Community
The Southeast side of Chicago consists of the following communities, South Chicago, Calumet Heights, South Deering, East Side and Hegewisch and has a population of 7,634 children between the ages of 0 to 5. These five thriving communities were the mecca of the steel Industry (circa 1875) with industrial names of Wisconsin Steel, Republic, Inland and Press Steel. The growth of this industry caused an influx of immigrants from various parts of the world, to make Southeast Chicago their home. The influence of immigrants on the south side of Chicago continues to have a presence in its community make up, architecture and landmarks. Its emphasis on family stability and children’s well-being guided residents to work hard for basic, local resources and a vibrant community grew. Though the steel industries are now gone the needs of families and children are still at its forefront. The famous 95th Street “Draw Bridge” located over the Calumet River was where the Blues Brothers jumped over the bridge as it was rising and landed on the East Side in an old 70’s squad car. The strength of that bridge is a community symbol and parallels the efforts made by local community agencies and businesses that promote the well-being of families with young children.
The Southeast All Our Kids (AOK) Early Childhood Network had its first inaugural meeting on December 5th, 2012. Since its inception, community providers who have actively participated at monthly meetings emphasized the need to get more information about local resources that support the positive growth and development of families with children birth to five. It was alarming that existing local services to support expecting parents and young children were generally unknown to community providers, who serve as an important source for providing information and navigating families through the system. So, the Network’s first goal was to create ways to help increase knowledge about local early childhood services by hosting presentations, trainings and informational sessions for local community agencies and families.
In the past year, AOK partners have offered trainings in the changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-SNAP (Illinois Hunger Coalition), the importance of play for children (Chicago Children’s Museum), comprehensive resources available and the stigma on mental health services (Metropolitan Family Services). And, this year the Network sponsored the Prevention Works Symposium where various partners presented on topics such as positive child development, early identification through developmental screenings, children’s mental health awareness and domestic violence prevention.
The Southeast AOK Early Childhood Network is committed to supporting the resiliency, innovation, vibrancy and diversity of its community members through hosting opportunities to make meaningful connections that builds trust and a strong foundation.
What resources are necessary to replicate this approach?
- Collaborating partners
- Formal partnership agreements
- Commitment to the objectives of the AOK and community they serve
- Awareness of importance of Early Childhood Trainings
- Ongoing providers updates
- Café Conversations
- Public Relations/Advertisement
- Venue Location