Family Focus Continues To Respond To Migrant Crisis

Since August of 2022, more than 10,000 asylum seekers, migrants and refugees have arrived in Chicagoland. Many of these families–typically from Venezuela, Columbia, Nicaragua and Haiti–are fleeing political persecution and instability, gang violence, and poverty.

Family Focus, in partnership with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), Start Early, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and our partner Illinois Welcoming Centers (IWC), has been hard at work providing care, services, and support for many of these families.

As of August 2023, Family Focus is providing ongoing case management support to nearly 400 individuals, including more than 100 individuals who are now in permanent housing across Chicago and the Northwest suburbs.

Additionally, we are providing ongoing emergency support to families who are temporarily being housed at the 14th (Logan Square), 15th (Austin), and 16th (Jefferson Park) police districts – helping them with essentials like food and clothing, bus passes, translators, and emergency assistance.

Family Focus Belmont Cragin, located on the city’s northwest side, has begun specific early childhood education programming with migrant families, including home visiting services, Doula (birthing partner) support for expecting mothers, child socialization activities, ESL learning, community building activities and more. Adriana Pashazadeh, Belmont Cragin Site Coordinator, explains:

“Providing a rapid response is extremely important for families with young children. The first five years of a baby’s life are critical for a lifetime of success. 90% of the brain’s development occurs during that time. Having a sense of connection, of stability and security and love, are vital to helping promote intellectual growth and social skills. We want to give that to these kids and these families. For instance, we’ve started weekly parent-child socializations with our new neighbors; and we’ll be starting home visiting soon. ”

Additionally, staff at each of our non-IWC sites are trained to respond and assist migrant families who arrive at their centers. Staff are receiving language instruction, and migrant families receive informational packets welcoming them to the United States, information and resources on both the asylum process and immigration process, information on Family Focus services, directions to the nearest Family Focus Welcoming Centers (Aurora, Belmont Cragin, Cicero, and Evanston), Ventra cards for public transportation and more.

While we continue to respond to the needs of our participants, Family Focus is also advocating for long-term solutions to the challenges these families face. In addition to funding limitations, these families also face legal limitations – for instance, in gaining work authorizations. Permanent housing remains a chronic issue – even now, children are sleeping on the floors of police stations. Many families may be eligible to apply for asylum and require the help of an immigration attorney – there isn’t enough low-cost legal help for asylum seekers.

These are just some of the challenges that these migrant families are facing, and Family Focus will continue being on the front line as we respond to this crisis. To learn more about how you can help, visit