The CAR Foundation spent the morning touring the Hephzibah House in Oak Park, which provides intensive therapeutic care for severely traumatized young children. The tour concluded with a $10,000 check presented to Hephzibah House executive director Merry Beth Sheets, MS, LCPC.
Founded in 1897 by Mary Wessels, Hephzibah Children’s Association is Oak Park’s oldest social service agency and runs several programs geared towards providing shelter and services for children. In addition to an after school and summer enrichment program for kids with working parents in eight of Oak Park’s elementary schools, Hephzibah also engages in child welfare work, serving as a foster care provider for 100 kids in need of foster care, providing licensing and oversight for foster parents, and through their Intact Family Services, providing crisis intervention support that stabilizes families and protects children at risk of abuse and neglect.
Their physical space, Hephzibah Home, hosts two programs designed to work in tandem with the Department of Child Services to help high-need kids. Because Illinois ranks last in the US in the removal children from homes due to health and safety and has the longest average length of stay in foster care, by the time children come into institutional or group home care like Hephzibah Home, they have been exposed to and endured significant, severe and sustained trauma related to abuse and neglect.
Hephzibah House offers two residential programs for children:
- A diagnostic treatment center – a residential treatment center for children ages 3-11 who have challenging early childhoods resulting in significant trauma histories and responses, including behavior that’s not age-appropriate. The program is short-term — typically six to nine months. The children live at the home and receive emotional, social, behavioral, physical and psychiatric evaluations, which help inform their recommended services plan to meet their needs moving forward.
- A residential treatment program – a live-in program that offers therapeutic support for 10 kids ages 3-11 whose significant early childhood traumas histories need longer-term care — about two years, on average.
Key to these programs is instituting the safe space, structure and consistency that is so beneficial to children’s development but was lacking in their early years.
Through Hephzibah House, high-need, high-risk children are able to have physical and emotional transformations and receive the care, safety and security they need to begin to cope with and heal from past traumas.
Hephzibah House was the recipient of the step stools and conference table built from repurposed scrap metal and wood by over 60 Chicago REALTORS® at last October’s REBUILD Project.
The CAR Foundation is proud to continue our support of Hephzibah House’s mission.