Children should remain front-and-center in fight to end homelessness

To solve family homelessness (eventually ending homelessness for children), all aspects of care for parents and children—physical, behavioral, educational and housing—need to be fully coordinated.

Dear Mayor Lori Lightfoot,

We urge you to renew your efforts to reduce homelessness and bankroll affordable housing in Chicago. This is no small problem. The latest Chicago Coalition for the Homeless statistics show 86,324 Chicagoans are homeless or in shared living arrangements.

This is particularly problematic for Chicago’s children, who experience lives of chaos and trauma that often lead to numerous physical and mental health issues. Repeated moves result in frequent school disruptions, inadequate physical health care and nearly nonexistent mental health care. Not surprisingly, many homeless children experience educational delays and never catch up.

Furthermore, homeless children experience higher rates than their housed peers of asthma and digestive problems thanks to poor nutrition that stems from food insecurity. Studies indicate they are twice as likely to have learning disabilities and three times as likely to develop behavioral health disorders. More disturbingly, only 1 in 4 homeless children will ever receive needed mental health treatment.

During the 2017-18 school year, Chicago Public Schools data shows 17,894 homeless children were enrolled in the Students in Temporary Living Situations program. Those are the children we can account for; the numbers are likely higher, and every number counts in the fight to end homelessness. Residential instability as a child is a key indicator of homelessness as an adult, so these children are likely to follow in the footsteps of their parents.

To turn the tide on homelessness and set a precedent for the rest of your administration, it’s critical to focus on homeless children during your first 100 days. And to solve family homelessness (eventually ending homelessness for children), all aspects of care for parents and children—physical, behavioral, educational and housing—need to be fully coordinated.

One of the best ways to accomplish this—a behemoth task in and of itself—is with High Fidelity Wraparound, a proven, research-based method of engaging and supporting high-risk children and their families. When implemented correctly, peer-reviewed research shows it yields the highest level of outcomes for children across all life domains—health, education and housing. Specialized care coordinators partner with children and their families to create tailored plans that ensure their service needs are met, and to help them problem-solve and overcome obstacles.

Advocacy and integration on a systems-wide level is critical in Chicago to implement HFW. To accomplish this goal, Primo Center, along with Heartland Alliance Health and Catholic Charities, formed a community planning team with representatives from every system serving children in the city and state. It’s funded by the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation—30 members strong—and includes DCFS, CPS, Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, Ounce of Prevention Fund, Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, All Chicago and other philanthropists and service providers. But most significantly, we include homeless parents and youth.

Collectively, our planning team is making system changes that will ensure the housing and well-being of the homeless children. Please join us, Mayor Lightfoot, and help make Chicago the first major U.S. city to end family homelessness.

Christine Achre is CEO of the Primo Center for Women & Children in Chicago.

Crain’s Chicago Business

Classic Kids’ Lovie Project and the Primo Center

Eight years ago, Classic Kids owner and friend of the Primo Center, Julie Floyd blessed our children and their mommies with new “lovies” from The Lovie Project. We are thrilled to be chosen once again to be the recipients of this thoughtful endeavor. Lovies are an integral component of Primo Center’s programming. They help provide immediate comfort and the establishment of trust with our staff. We are grateful to Julie for her ongoing generosity and re-activation of The Lovie Project.

Created by Classic Kids founder, Julie Floyd in 2011, The Lovie Project was quickly embraced by Classic Kids photographers from New York to San Francisco, photographing hundreds of well-loved toys, from threadbare teddy bears to tattered blankets. From May 12 through June 15, Classic Kids will again be photographing lovies.

Lovie photo shoots are FREE with the donation of a new lovie and all the new lovies collected will be delivered to the Primo Center in Chicago. Children entering the shelter will have the opportunity to choose their new special friend from donated lovies. In a world filled with difficult circumstances, having that one special friend can mean so much to a child.

“The Lovie Project is one of the best things we’ve done in our 25-year history,” says Floyd. “Working with lovies as subjects is really fun. They truly hold a special place in children’s hearts and that love comes through in the photographs. Seeing children choose a lovie of their very own at the local shelters has been incredibly moving for all of us.” 

In addition to providing much needed comfort items to children in need, a portion of all lovie project print and product sales will be contributed to the Primo Center.  Floyd explains, “This is a great opportunity to create meaningful pieces of artwork that are not only beautiful but also great conversation pieces to help a very worthy cause.”

Lovie photo sessions will be offered in all ten Classic Kids studios across the country to include Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Greenwich. Lovies may also be sent to studios by mail. To locate studios and schedule appointments, please visit:  

About Classic Kids

Classic Kids Photography is a high-end, nationally distinguished boutique photography company specializing in portraits of children and their families, including pets. This year marks their 25th year in business.

For more information about The Lovie Project or Classic Kids Photography, please visit:

Media Contact:
Julie Floyd

Classic Kids Photography