New mural on Mural Building to change image of child welfare


When "foster home" is mentioned, what image comes to mind? A family bringing a child or children into their home? If yes, be ready for an image adjustment. Look at the new mural on the Mural Building, 1735 N. Ashland Ave., that is being seen by people in nearly 327,000 vehicles driving on the Kennedy Expressway daily. 

“Thanks to our partnership with Wintrust Financial," said Tim McCormick, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages Illinois about the new mural. "We are raising awareness for the children and families in our care, as we renew in them a capacity to dream and maximize their fullest potential.” 

“The SOS Children’s Villages model is like a light under a bushel basket that more people need to know about and support,” said Wintrust President & CEO Edward J. Wehmer. “That’s why we’re glad to help expose this organization wherever we can. We hope this mural helps lift the basket to encourage more people to take notice of the important work SOS does.” 


Under the basket
While many people around the world have heard of SOS Children's Villages, that is not true in the United States. In fact they have been serving thousands of children around the world since 1949. 

Their model is different then most child welfare organizations because of the way they are physically setup and because of their goals. Specifically they:

  • Keep siblings together, instead of putting them in different homes, providing a safe space for at-risk youth to heal
  • Create their own communities
  • Have full time trained foster parents living in those communities

"The children are surrounded by intentional community support that they call the 'village,'" explained Kristine Kavanagh, SOS Children's Villages. "These children have been put into the foster system because they were abused, neglected or abandoned, not because of their actions. This non-traditional approach to foster care takes that into consideration and turns them into self-confident adults who go on to live productive and happy lives." 

Results of their care in Illinois speaks for itself. In Illinois, SOS has a 100% high school graduation rate, compared to a national average of 50% for children in foster care. 

Since 2006, SOS Children’s Villages Illinois has received seven consecutive 4-star evaluations from Charity Navigator. SOS points out that only 2% of charities rated achieve. Last November, Chicago Magazine named SOS Children’s Villages Illinois one of “Twenty Top Charities in Chicago.” 


With the first home in Austria just after World War II, the organization has grown to be the largest non-denominational  child welfare agency in the world with over 550 villages in more than 130 countries . 

In Illinois there are four sites. Three are villages:

  • In Lockport there is an 18-home Village.opened in 1993.
  • In Auburn Gresham, Englewood neighborhood there is a 19-home Village, opened in 2004.
  • In Roosevelt Square Community there is a 14-home Village which opened 2014.
  • In the the Back of the Yards neighborhood, Casa Tepeyac was acquired in 2011. It is a short-term residential facility designed to assist at-risk male youth, ages 12-17. 

For more information about SOS Children’s Villages Illinois check their website.



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