Beacon Therapeutic is Ending Homelessness with Run Home Chicago

When the Run Home Chicago race is all said and done, providing a variety of services and support for Chicago’s homeless communities will still be the number one priority for a large number of local advocates and community organizations such as Beacon Therapeutic Diagnostic and Treatment Center, a multi-site diagnostic and treatment center for high-risk homeless adolescents, teens, and their families. As a vital leader in the social services arena with a particular focus on child and family homelessness, Beacon Therapeutic has partnered with Run Home Chicago to advance their mission and fundamental belief that we can end homelessness  “one child and family at a time.”
Beacon Therapeutic’s strong foundation in serving Chicago’s homeless population dates back to 1968, when a group of concerned parents on Chicago’s southwest side felt their children needed a better learning environment. To meet those needs, they created the “Beacon School”, a private special education facility serving children ages 3 to 21. And since then, Beacon Therapeutic has serviced a broad population in the metropolitan region through its three core programs and key initiatives.  The first of these are the Therapeutic Day Schools for students ages 3-21 who are not successful in traditional school settings thanks to their special learining and behavioral needs.  Second is Beacon’s Homeless Outreach Program,  which has made the non-profit the largest  provider of mobile mental health and support services to homeless families in the city of Chicago.  And third, Beacon’s Outpatient Mental Health Services deliver innovative, intensive outpatient day treatment care to young children (3-5) through the Little Intensive Outpatient Program and to older youth (6-17) via the Big Intensive Outpatient Program.

Beacon Therapeutic’s capacity to provide stability to over 700 families and 1,600 children annually during transitional housing periods is a reflection of their well-defined care philosophy that facilitates self-sufficiency, independence, empowerment and self-fulfillment for all. For example, after witnessing a sharp rise in children and families in Chicago homeless shelters, Beacon’s highly-skilled, licensed clinical staff immediately delivered mobile mental health services directly to clients in those facilities to help them rebuild their lives and find permanent housing, as well as essential follow-up care for up to six months.

Beacon’s current initiative is the Family Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) Program, a collaboration project between Beacon Therapeutic (lead agency), Heartland Alliance, Inner Voice and Voices for Illinois Children, which was launched via funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the National Center on Family Homelessness. The project targets mother, child and family well-being to mitigate the impact of homelessness on child development by improving the housing, health and well-being of homeless and at-risk young mothers and children. To do so, FACT has formed a special treatment team designed to provide comprehensive, community-based psychiatric treatment, rehabilitation and support to those with serious and persistent mental illness who do not readily benefit from clinic-based services.

To learn more about Beacon’s efforts, view their show on Chicago Access Network Television’s (CAN TV) Hotline 21, which airs every Wednesday at 4:30-4:55pm through  June 25th, 2012.  Tune in to their episode on June 6th for updates about Beacon’s initiatives and our Run Home Chicago 10 K race, 5 K race and Kids’ Dash.

Beacon Therapeutic is running alongside Run Home Chicago for two reasons:  to remind their clients, staff members and homelessness advocates that children and families have thrived from their services, and let those in need of their services know they are ready to help. While research indicates that every year 600,000 families with 1.35 million children experience homelessness in the United States, Beacon Therapeutic’s level of care and their state-of-the-art programs, combined with a strong culture of collaboration, have allowed Beacon to tackle important issues around care, treatment and resources– and pave a new path to ending homelessness.

To run with Beacon Therapeutic in onE of the Run Home Chicago races on June 10th, please visit their page on our site here.

You can also visit Beacon Therapeutic’s website here.

A Chicago CPS Teacher Running the 5K with Students

In planning for our Run Home Chicago race, we received a special request from a local CPS teacher who signed up her classroom and fellow teachers for the 5k race– an act that we found inspiring and wanted to share with our Run Home Chicago runners, walkers, homeless advocates and greater Chicago community.

Mrs. Smith, the teacher who inquired about our race, views Run Home Chicago as an opportunity to raise awareness about homelessness and its invasive impact on children in the classroom. Having taught in a Chicago Public School for the past 5 years, Mrs. Smith has had first hand experience with homeless students who needed help in gathering school supplies and fees for class field trips. It was one instance, however, where she came to realize the harsh realities of the effects of homelessness. She saw one of her former students on the street, asking for change at an intersection just 6 blocks from the school. Even though Mrs. Smith had previously taught the child, she was not aware of the student’s unstable home situation and that they had no place to complete research and homework assignments– this is when she knew something had to be done.

Mrs. Smith is currently approaching this challenge by effecting change within her own school community. She reported that the social makeup of her particular school is 98% African-American and only 55% of the students meet or exceeded Illinois Learning Standards. Mrs. Smith also aptly pointed out that her local Chicago public school was merely reflecting the social, economic and cultural fabric of its respective neighborhood; she mentioned that this is the case with all Chicago public schools, and that each school distinctly varies from the next as a result of religious and socio-economic characteristics of each neighborhood.

Mrs. Smith and her colleagues are collectively working towards raising awareness of the effects of homelessness on our education system by asking friends and family to donate funds to Run Home Chicago, as well as participating in the Run Home Chicago 5K race on June 10th. She explained that this race will be a personal accomplishment for all of the participating teachers whom at the finish line, will be satisfied to know that they completed a 5K in honor of raising awareness for a very prominent issue in not only in their school, but also the city of Chicago.

*names have been changed for confidentiality