Business for a Better World: Well Child Center

Well Child Center

620 Wing Street, Elgin, IL, 60123

(847) 741-7370

Industry: Nonprofit organization

Number of employees: 34

Q: Describe your company.

A: For 50 years, Well Child Center (WCC) has been a leader in the provision of health and social services for low-income families and uninsured, at-risk children residing in Kane County. The organization is grounded in one primary goal - creating and maintaining programs and services to help all children thrive with a focus on building, strengthening, and sustaining individual family and community life.

Well Child Center - through its staff and board of directors - is committed to improving the lives of children and families through education, counseling and services in the areas of oral health and nutrition, respectively. Well Child Center does not reach its goals alone, however; progress is achieved through broad-based community partnerships.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: After a year of transformation and transition, the organization is fully staffed. The most recent addition to the staff team is the food pantry coordinator. Further, the capital investments needed in the organization include masonry work on the exterior of the building; a technology infrastructure upgrade; and expansion and updates to equipment related to the dental clinic.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: The main challenge in the next year relates to ongoing operational support. Similar to many nonprofits, Well Child Center's budget focused primarily on support for salary/benefits for a small but mighty staff. In order to reach our full potential as a service provider for the most vulnerable women, children and families in our community, we require non-programmatic support in the form of sponsorships, partnerships, grants, etc.

The other challenge we anticipate in the next year is being able to provide adequate support for staffing and supplies for the Food for Families pantry opening this month. We know families need support now more than ever and we want to be sure that we have both the capacity and the resources to do just that - support them with basic, everyday essentials.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: As a result of the pandemic, we know that children ages 1-3 have delayed preventive and other dental care. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the eating habits of children of all ages, which in turn has impacted oral health of children. We need to focus on getting the youngest children into dental care as soon as possible to prevent future dental/oral health issues and also to address any oral health issues that may have occurred during the first 3-5 years of life.

The most vulnerable children - those living in poverty - have experienced the most negative consequences.

Q: Does climate change affect how your company does business?

A: Climate changes can have significant consequences for families' health, well-being. It can affect air and water quality and increase the spread of infectious diseases, and can threaten food supplies. The Well Child Center addresses these by our core services of providing health and wellness care plus food through our new food pantry, to Kane County's most vulnerable families.

Q: Is your company minority-owned? Woman-owned? If so, what are the challenges of being a minority- or woman-owned company?

A: Our organization is governed by a 12-member, diverse board of directors, eight of whom are women.

Q: What does your company do regarding DE&I (diversity, equity & inclusion)?

A: Well Child Center has a very diverse staff and volunteer base. Many of our volunteers are current or past clients of Well Child Center, including but not limited to its Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC); this is a federal program that provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Additionally, WCC clients and patients are diverse: 73% are Hispanic, 14% are Caucasian, 10% are African American, 1% are Native American, and 1% Asian American.

WCC is located in Elgin, an urban community within Kane County, which has a population of 532,403. In 2019 (pre-pandemic), 8.2% Kane County residents were living in poverty. The number of uninsured Kane County residents in 2019 was 10.2%, which is likely much higher now due to the impact of the pandemic.

The racial makeup of Kane County is 6% Black/African American, 1% American Indian/Alaskan Native, 4.4% Asian, 0.1 Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, 2% two or more races, 32.4% Hispanic/Latina, and 56.6% White, not Hispanic.

Q: Does your company do anything else to make your community better?

A: Our entire mission is to make our community better.

"The Well Child Center is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through education, counseling and services in the areas of nutrition and dental health"; this mission statement exemplifies the essence of The Best Legacy.

Q: What do you do to make your business a good place to work for your employees?

A: We focus on the mission of the organization and creating a workforce that is passionate about serving those most in need in alignment with our mission. And we don't just say that, we show it and exemplify it every day. While we are unable to pay high salaries, we are able to provide an environment where open, transparent communication is not only honored and valued, but also encouraged.

We empower our employees to find joy in work through caring for and serving patients and clients; friendships and relationships with one another and community partners/colleagues; and giving employees opportunities to learn and grow.

The leadership/management team allowing all team members to make clients and patients happy using their own discretion and common sense, for everything from greeting and welcoming them to problem solving; this has benefitted our organization in many obvious and not so obvious ways. Very importantly, we lead by example and model the way, recognizing that laughter and fun on the job can make a difference in the way the job is done.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: Teamwork to make the dream work.

Q: What is one interesting fact about your company that most people may not know?

A: Well Child Center was founded by two school nurses in the community who identified that immunization rates and preventive care visits for poor children in Elgin were much lower than other children. The dream of the nurses was to provide a one-stop shop for families in the community who needed easy access and extra support - that's how Well Child Center was born.

In the early years, the organization operated out of a church basement; now Well Child Center has grown and owns its own building/space and serves as the largest WIC program in northern Kane County and provides dental care to children who are uninsured or underinsured. If you ask any of our staff team what their favorite thing about working at Well Child Center is they will say: being able to help families in our community who need it the most! Our passion drives us and is infectious.

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On Oct. 5 the Well Child Center kicked off its 50th anniversary celebration with an official ribbon cutting to unveil Food for Families, its new food pantry. Pictured, left to right: Members of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce; Elgin Mayor David Kaptain; Well Child Center Executive Director Michelle Esquivel; Board President Mark Ainley; and Food for Greater Elgin Executive Director Michael Montgomery. courtesy of Well Child Center

Well Child Center

620 Wing Street, Elgin, Ill., 60123

(847) 741-7370

Industry: Nonprofit organization

Number of employees: 34

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