Programming at the Primo Center

Primo Center does not deny access and serves families regardless of their ability to pay.

There is a discounted/sliding fee schedule based on family size and income.

If you need an immediate place to stay, call 311 or visit a Community Service Center. They will connect you with resources for rental assistance and homelessness prevention. They can also refer you to an overnight shelter.

Primo Center does not operate an emergency shelter program.

Primo Center employs a holistic and innovative approach to its work, investing in four key areas to support each family:

  • Housing

    Primo Center is the largest provider of services and shelter for homeless children and their families in Chicago. Serving those most vulnerable, the Center’s record of helping families gain independence far exceeds the national average.

    • Primo Center is the highest performing service provider for families in Chicago, consistently placing more than 97% in permanent housing with only a 3% rate of return to homelessness. This compares to an industry standard of 55-65% return rate in other programs.
    • 100% of Primo Center assisted families transition from the program with income and benefits, including employment.
    • Primo Center provides 330 beds of interim housing.
  • Trauma-Informed Care

    Primo Center’s success is distinguished by its 360-degree approach to care called High Fidelity Wraparound, which is recognized nationally for helping break the cycle of homelessness for children and families. It aids the most at-risk children.

    • Solving family homelessness requires care for parents and children to be coordinated. Primo Center uses a 360-degree approach to care called High Fidelity Wraparound (HFW), which is a proven, research-based method of engaging and supporting vulnerable 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.
    • We prioritize mental health with trauma-informed care that empowers families to move out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
    • The Primo Center team is committed to addressing the causes for homelessness and caring for children and their families with compassion, humanity and dignity while giving them a ‘sense of place.’

    Family Leadership Institute

    To address the needs of highly vulnerable families and end the cycle of homelessness for families, Primo Center focuses on trauma-informed care through its Family Leadership Institute.

    The Family Leadership Institute addresses each family member’s traumatic exposure, empowers parents to support their children and addresses children’s developmental needs.

  • Early Childhood Development

    Primo Center enriches the lives of children from 0–5 years by bringing trauma-informed care to build their resilience, and by focusing on education, including operating an innovative early childhood center and an innovative home visiting program. For so many of these children, unresolved trauma and anxiety has an unseen impact, and the children struggle academically and socially. Reducing children’s symptoms of traumatic stress and increasing their coping mechanisms impacts developmental growth, readiness to learn and school performance. Children are helped to grow along the four core developmental domains of social/emotional, physical, language and cognitive, and they learn conflict resolution and anger management with an emphasis on self-motivation and mastery. In addition, the parent-child relationship is strengthened through a variety of parenting support services. Overall, Primo Center’s trauma-informed social emotional services help level the playing field.

  • Integrated Healthcare

    Primo Center makes it a priority to provide integrated physical, dental, and mental health services for children and families. Our trauma-informed approach allows us to meet families where they are, develop a plan that meets the needs of individual family members and empowers parents to support their children and families. This is achieved through linkages to primary, dental and mental health care "homes" in partnership with Heartland Alliance Health, Howard Brown Health, and Lawndale Christian Health Center.

    Kids Connected is a groundbreaking project that creates a true system of care for homeless children and their families. In creating this system of care for homeless families, Kids Connected finally removes the barriers to primary, preventative and mental health services for this hugely underserved population, creating a streamlined system that puts the family at the center of their care and wraps all needed services and supports around the family. This will result in improved health outcomes for mothers and children, better school outcomes, and stable housing. Kids Connected combines three key principles that have been used and refined across the country and have significant bodies of research, but have never been used with homeless families — systems of care, wraparound services, and integrated health homes. Kids Connected melds all three for the first time to deliver seamless support to homeless children with mental health needs and their families. The project has six years of implementation funding from the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation plus additional support from the Crown Family Foundation and is potentially a model for national replication.