Get to Know Family Focus

Learn how Family Focus helps nurture children by strengthening families. We help caregivers put the pieces of parenting together, one piece at a time.



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Success Stories

A.D. came to Illinois with her son, Javier. She did not speak English, making her feel out of place and lonely. She became a participant in Family Focus’s programing and drastically improved her life. A.D. learned English and gained parenting knowledge. She now has three daughters, all of whom have been a part of the Family Focus programming preparing them for pre-school and beyond.




  • I wanted to dance just like other girls did. But we didn't have the money and transporation for dance class. [Family Focus] helped me overcome this obstacle.

                            -Haide, Age 13


    I love ballet [but] the classes are too expensive for my family...and the program [at Family Focus] helped me to get a scholarship. I am more responsible and I put more effort into what I do.

                            -Juliana, Age 11

  • "[My dream] is for my sons to go to college, my daughter too, so they can have a better life.” Rivera looked at her newly-secured citizenship certificate. “It’s not too late for me either now that I have this,” Francisca Rivera

  • “I made a good choice in coming to the Family Focus program,” reflected Jamilla Chatman, “I feel better than what I did. I was failing, but now I’m doing a lot better!”

  • "Before the class, I didn't know walking, standing and leaning may help stimulate contractions, and that kneeling may relieve back pain and hemorrhoids. I'm glad I attended the Prenatal classes." - Antone Robinson, teen father

  •  "I was thankful my doula was at my birth. I thanked her for her services before she left the hospital".-- Gabrielle Young, teen mother


Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2015


Strategic Plan Executive Summary

From a single drop-in center in Evanston, Illinois, Family Focus now provides holistic family support services to over 20,000 individuals through programming, outreach, and crisis services.


Successful Ballet Classes for Young Girls

I wanted to dance just like other girls did. But we didn't have the money and transporation for dance class. [Family Focus] helped me overcome this obstacle.

                        -Haide, Age 13


I love ballet [but] the classes are too expensive for my family...and the program [at Family Focus] helped me to get a scholarship. I am more responsible and I put more effort into what I do.

                        -Juliana, Age 11


After Black Friday and Cyber Monday it's Giving Tuesday, a global day where non-profits, charities, families, businesses, community centers, families, and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

 Your support helps keep over 17,000 children thriving and builds lifelong skills and networks that impact their future and our community.

Any donation amount will:

  • Buy books for children to have in their home
  • Sponsor children summer camps to keep them safe and active
  • Support a parent in our ESL class who is trying to learn English so they can work
  • Support a father is a year-long program so he can build a relationship with his children
  • Provide after school snack for children.

Show your support by taking an #UnSelfie! Take a picture of yourself with a sign stating why you support Family Focus. Share your photo with us on Twitter @FamilyFocus or Facebook and use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #FamilyFocus.

Click here to download your sign!

Family Focus is a top-rated nonprofit whose focus helps Chicago-area families living in low-income communities give their children the best possible start in life. We help families gain the confidence and skills to be the parents they want to be. By offering customized classes, support groups and referral services in a welcoming and caring environment, Family Focus helps families help themselves while building a relationship based on equality and respect. Since 1976, its successful results have proved the value of the family support approach to improving the lives of children have led to Family Focus’ methods being adopted by other non-profit organizations and agencies nationwide.

Right From The Start Success Story

Right From The Start Success Story

When Humberto Campos and his wife Beatriz first came to Family Focus six years ago, they were recent immigrants, with no safety net and their first baby was on the way. Humberto worked two shifts at a local restaurant and their lack of English and education made it difficult to find help. Through our Rights From the Start program, we provided a Doula to help with the birth of their daughter Maggie, and later, home visits to ensure she was reaching her developmental milestones. While her parents attended our parenting classes, support groups and English classes, our early childhood specialists worked with Maggie, teaching her English, colors, words, how to share and interact with other children.  By the time Maggie, now six, entered school; she was more than ready for Kindergarten.

Since then, Humberto and Beatriz have both take English classes and have developed friendships through our center support groups and activities.  Humberto even took Zumba classes, dropping 40 pounds as a result.  Not only is he healthier, but he became a certified Zumba instructor to supplement their income.  Their second child Daniel also went through the program and is thriving thanks to donors like you!


First in Illinois

First in Illinois

On October 6, Family Focus’ entire senior leadership team  attended an all day training at Family Focus Evanston in partnership with the National  Network of Family Strengthening Networks. 

The purpose was to train all 37 senior staff members on how best to ensure family support standards are integrated into all of our work, allowing us to qualitatively and quantitatively measure our impact on families. 

Since our founder Bernice Weissbourd  is one of the originators of the Family Support movement, it was only natural that Family Focus be the first family support and resource center in Illinois to adopt these standards  and certify all senior staff. 

The training was led by Andrew Russo and Brenda Chesney,  Co-Chairs of the National Network of Family Strengthening Networks , pictured here with Family Focus CEO, Merri Ex.


Outstanding Volunteers

Outstanding Volunteers

Thanks to the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. James Gottlieb, our affiliate Family Network will reach even more families in need.  In September, the Gottliebs made a substantial gift to support the Right From The Start (RFTS) program and our participants in Lake County.  Not only will their kindness allow us to increase our impact this year, but will help build organizational capacity so we can serve more families in the future.

Donna Gottlieb is a bilingual volunteer in our Parent/Child Center’s Dual Language Program at the Family Network center.  In her role she has greeted children and soothed anxious parents for over fourteen years.  Her husband Jim told us that Donna frequently tells him how much joy and satisfaction she gets as a volunteer.  Jim went on to say,

“Donna and I have been anxious to make a special gift to an organization in our community that helps children and families.  We are very pleased to be able to make this gift to the Right From the Start Program”. 

Thank you Donna and Jim! We are so appreciative of your support and interest in our children, families and community.