SOS Illinois' 'Family Togetherness' message for MLK Day supports the bond between birth parents and kids in foster care

  • SOS Illinois staff members assemble the "Family Togetherness Bags" to strengthen bonds between biological parents and children in foster care during COVID-19.

    SOS Illinois staff members assemble the "Family Togetherness Bags" to strengthen bonds between biological parents and children in foster care during COVID-19. Courtesy of SOS Illinois

 
Submitted by Chloe Kiser
Updated 1/15/2021 10:15 PM

January 15, 2021 (Chicago, IL) -- SOS Children's Villages Illinois, a nonprofit, child-welfare agency that serves at-risk youth and children in foster care, shares a message of togetherness in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day with "Family Togetherness Bags" to support the bond between birth parents and children in foster care. These bags will be delivered today and throughout the weekend leading up to Monday, Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The organization will disseminate 56 bags to biological parents served through the SOS Illinois program.

The "Family Togetherness Bags" are a project of the SOS Children's Villages Illinois Racial Justice Committee.

 

During the month of January, the message about MLK Day is the meaning of family, community, and togetherness, even during COVID-19, when our communities may be physically separated. To increase the bonding experience between birth parents and youth, the Committee has prepared a "Family Togetherness Bag." These bags will be dispersed to our Child Welfare Specialists so they can be shared with biological parents to use during family visits. The "Family Togetherness Bag" is a reusable bag that includes four parent/child activities and items that promote family togetherness:

• Goya Foods family recipe with ingredients -- This recipe offers an opportunity for the family to cook together and share a meal.

• Book -- The book promotes learning about racial inequities in our society, as well as offers important together time as a family.

• Board Game -- The board game provides an opportunity to create happy childhood memories.

• SOS Illinois keychain -- This is a small reminder of how we serve the entire family to transform each individual life.

• Picture frame art projects (decoration and glue inserts for each frame) -- Being creative as a family creates lasting memories.

• Family Picture - SOS Illinois Foster Parents are encouraged to send a photo, which will allow the biological parent to keep the family close with them, even when they are apart.

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"I find hope in the progress that is being made in combatting the pandemic. I am heartened by the increased focus across our society on eliminating racial inequity," said Delphine Rankin, Chief Operating Officer at SOS Illinois. "If you're like me, you are looking for ways to take action in support of your hopes and beliefs. In the meantime, I continue to find pride in what SOS Children's Villages Illinois does every day to help create loving and safe homes and in turn greater access to opportunity for everyone in our country."

The SOS Children's Villages Illinois' Racial Justice Committee has been working behind the scenes to determine the best approach SOS Illinois can take to address the issues we face today, in particular working to reunite families. The Racial Justice Committee recognizes the systems of inequity that disproportionately impact people of color; socioeconomic deprivation, poor education, and lack of access to resources. SOS Illinois recognizes the role this disparity plays in the dissolution of the family unit. We are therefore committed to mitigating these challenges in order to reunite families or ensure a permanent outcome for children where they can continue to grow and thrive. The SOS Illinois commitment is to support a process that ensures children find their "forever home." SOS Illinois does so by building bridges between our biological parents and our Foster Parents throughout the communities we serve.

On Monday, Jan. 18, as SOS Illinois observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service, we encourage all to participate and/or join virtual opportunities to celebrate or volunteer on efforts to improve your communities. Here are a couple of opportunities:

• Art Institute of Chicago -- Virtual www.artic.edu

• Mayor Lori Lightfoot Interfaith, featuring Atlanta's Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms -- www.chi.gov/mlk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Additionally, to read more about how our organization is working to support biological parents, read our latest blog - How SOS Illinois Foster Parents Support Birth Parents (www.sosillinois.org/how-sos-illinois-foster-parents-support-birth-parents/).

About SOS Children's Villages Illinois:

SOS Children's Villages Illinois, founded 30 years ago, is a 501(c)3 child welfare agency that provides an individual licensed home in a supportive, community environment that marshals all the resources needed to help children heal and achieve their permanency goals.

The Village Model of Care prioritizes the following: 1.) Children live together with their siblings, 2.) Children receive care and support from a full-time, professionally trained and licensed Foster Parent 3.) Children thrive in a private, single-family home, 4.) Children are supported by the Village, designed as an intentional community of care; and 5.) The entire family is supported through our Family Strengthening Services to keep families in-tact whenever possible.

SOS Children's Villages Illinois unites brothers and sisters in foster care and provides a safe space to heal for at-risk youth.

Currently, the organization operates four sites: three Villages providing sibling group foster care at an 18-home Village (opened in 1993) in Lockport, Illinois; a 19-home Village (opened in 2004) in the Auburn Gresham, Englewood neighborhood of Chicago; a 14-home Village (opened in 2014) in the Roosevelt Square Community of Chicago, as well as Casa Tepeyac (acquired in 2011), a facility that offers preventative and in-home services in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago.

SOS Children's Villages Illinois celebrates a 100% high school graduation rate, compared to a national average of 50% for children in foster care. In 2019, SOS Illinois was awarded Charity Navigator's highest rating of Four-Stars and recognized by GuideStar with a Platinum Seal of Transparency. For more information on SOS Children's Villages Illinois, visit: sosillinois.org.

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