Family Focus and Chicago Child Care Society Announce Merger

Family Focus and Chicago Child Care Society are pleased to announce that after a year of negotiations, the agencies have merged into one organization effective January 1, 2021, and will maintain the name Family Focus.

Family Focus and Chicago Child Care Society  joined our shared mission to provide early childhood education, youth development and family support services in under-resourced communities across northeast Illinois. Our newly merged Family Focus combines the strengths and expertise of both agencies to offer one comprehensive continuum of services for the entire family that can reach a larger geographic footprint. This new venture will allow us to reach more families, have a bigger voice to influence public policies at every level of government, and to reach more people who care about this work and supporting our neighbors (like you!)

Post Adoption Inquiries?

For Chicago Child Care Society historic adoptions:

Please contact Heshima Mance at (773) 643-0452 ext. 2418 or [email protected].

Stronger Together

Both Family Focus and CCCS have histories we are very proud of and we are grateful to the many participants and donors we have worked with over the decades that played a role in helping us become the strong individual entities we are today. We are excited to combine our years of experience and expertise to serve more families.

By maximizing our programs and services and combining our strengths, the new Family Focus is creating more opportunities for children and families to succeed!  Our nationally recognized family support model, providing culturally affirming, holistic services to children and families in and with their communities, is strengthened. All of this leads to even more positive impact on the communities we know and serve. We are stronger together.

Read more about the merger:

Mission, Vision and Values


Family Focus invests in strengthening families and their children  in Chicago and NE Illinois so they build social capital and achieve upward economic mobility through high-quality innovative programs and services, grounded in anti-racism and social justice.


Families and children in and with their communities, maximize their full potential and live fulfilling, healthy and meaningful lives.


Dedication to Every Participant
Everything we do is for every participant that comes through our doors. This is why we are in existence.

We honor families as their children’s best advocates and teachers.

Continuous Learning
We encourage individual development so that each person can reach his or her highest potential.

We are committed to change that is driven by data and assessment.

We promote ethical behavior in practice by delivering high standard services which make measurable differences in the lives of those we serve.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
We believe that our agency is enriched by participation of people from all backgrounds and cultures. We facilitate inclusion, diversity and racial representation and healing.

We stand with the people and communities we serve to root out structural and systemic racism.

We are committed to the principles of Family Support and will continue to apply them to our programs.

We believe in offering evidence-based programs, measuring what we do, and learning from our experience and results.

Meet Our Leadership Team

Board of Directors

Family Focus and Chicago Child Care Society have each migrated 22 members of their previous Boards of Directors to create the new Board of Family Focus. The new leadership of the Board of Directors includes:

  • Dennis Abboud, Chairperson
  • Caragh DeLuca, Vice Chairperson
  • Kevin P. Stineman, Treasurer
  • Julie Hamos, Secretary

LEARN MORE of the full list of our new Board of Directors

Executive Leadership

Dara T. Munson-President & CEO
Dara Munson, MPA
President & CEO

Dara’s career has focused largely on the needs of children at-risk, fueled by a special passion for issues affecting women and girls. She has previously served as CEO of Chicago Child Care Society, Chief Operating Officer of Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, President and CEO at Big Brothers Big Sisters and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

In addition to numerous accolades such as honors, awards and recognition, Dara continues her philanthropic efforts by serving on many boards including the Illinois Partners for Human Services Board, the Eastern Michigan University Foundation Board, the International Women’s Foundation, Chicago Chapter Board and the DCFS Child Day Care Licensing Advisory Committee. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

“I am thrilled to have serve greater Chicago as President and CEO of the new Family Focus and look forward to leading this dynamic organization with purpose and continued dedication to community.”

LEARN MORE about our new leadership team

Linda Balsamo

Senior Vice President of People and Culture

Sherneron Hilliard

Senior Vice President of Programs and Impact

Stephen Majsak

Senior Vice President of External Relations

Mariana Osoria

Senior Vice President of Partnerships and Engagement

Caterina Varvaro

Senior Advisor

LEARN MORE about the new Family Focus leadership team

Our Legacies

Chicago Child Care Society, also known as CCCS,  has been serving children and families for over 170 years, making it the oldest social services agency in Illinois. They first opened their doors as the Chicago Orphan’s Asylum in 1849 when children were left homeless after their parents lost their lives to the cholera epidemic. Since then, CCCS has embraced Chicago children through the Great Chicago Fire, the Civil War and both world wars. In 2013, CCCS ended its work in child welfare and shifted to early childhood education programs. Today, CCCS is a multi-service agency with 111 full-time and 9 part-time staff that exists to stabilize families and transform lives, providing programs and services for 1,500 children/youth and their families each year. CCCS has three centers located in Hyde Park and South Shore in Chicago; and South Holland, Illinois in the south suburbs.  

Family Focus was created in 1976 by Bernice Weissbourd as a drop-in center for children and families run by volunteers. Today there are 194 full time, and 80 part-time are serving families at seven centers throughout the Chicago metropolitan region: Evanston and Highland Park in the north suburbs; Aurora and DuPage in the western suburbs; Englewood and Lawndale on the south side of Chicago; and Hermosa/Cicero on the west side and western suburbs. Through all of its centers, Family Focus provides holistic family support services to a total of 18,500 individuals, including parents and children enrolled in center programming and individuals through programming and partnerships. Family Focus provides programs and services focusing on prenatal to five years of age, young adults, parents, and specialized services focusing on immigration and citizenship and fathers. 

Our Programs and Services

Click the + buttons below to expand and read more about our comprehensive program offerings.

Home Visiting

The home visiting program provides parents with children ages birth to 5 with information, family support, and referrals to community resources and services. The program promotes good maternal and child health, home safety, food security, positive parenting, parent-child interaction activities, school readiness, and coaching through regular visits with a trained professional based on the needs and schedule. Our programs have adopted three home visiting evidence-based models: Parents as Teachers (PAT) Healthy Families Illinois (HFI), and Baby Talk.


The doula program connects pregnant women in our existing home visiting programs to trained doulas who provide support during the critical times of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum/early parenting. Our doulas also provide pregnancy and childbirth education, early linkage to health care and other services, labor coaching, breastfeeding promotion and counseling, and parenting education, while encouraging parental attachment. The program is based on the power of peer-to-peer support.


Our Head Start program is an early childcare and education program for children ages 3 to 5 from low-income families. This comprehensive program promotes school readiness, provides nutritious meals and access to free medical and dental services. In addition, we offer parents educational and training programs.

Chicago Child Care Society has preschools in both Hyde Park and South Shore.

Hyde Park Preschool

5467 S. University Ave
7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Serves children from 6 weeks to 5 years old.

For general information about our preschool centers or to schedule a tour, please contact Pamela Flowers-Thomas, Center Director at (773) 643-0452 ext. 2414 or [email protected]

South Shore Preschool

7037 S. Stony Island
7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Serves children from 6 weeks to 5 years old.

To learn more about our South Shore preschool center or take a tour, please contact Phyllis White at (773) 363-3200 or [email protected]

Early Head Start

Our Early Head Start center-based programs serve infants and toddlers under the age of 3, and pregnant women. We provide intensive comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income infants and toddlers and their families, and to pregnant women and their families.

Beyond Parenting

Beyond Parenting is an education and support program for pregnant and parenting teens with children 0-3 years old. We provide pre- and postnatal support and education and bi-weekly in-home visits to help children meet developmental milestones.

21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CLCC)

21st CCLC provides school based academic enrichment activities and tutorial services designed to help students aged 6-18 years old meet local and state academic standards in subjects such as reading and mathematics. We also provide recreation, STEM, art, music, dance, technology, character education to enhance the academic component of the program. Support services are also provided to the families of participating children.

Arts and Culture

The Arts and Culture program focus on art and social emotional growth that challenges youth to explore what art means to them individually. Youth will learn different elements of art, be introduced to several different art pieces, and will recreate their own art piece of choice.

Center Based After-School Program

Center based after-schools are offered onsite of a Family Focus center to youth 6-18 years old. Academic enrichment activities and tutorial services designed to help students meet local and state academic standards in subjects such as reading and mathematics. We also provide recreation, STEM, art, music, dance, technology, character education to enhance the academic component of the program. Services are also provided to families of participating children.

Enrichment Program

The enrichment program provides Out of School Time (OST) to students 6-12 years old. The programs focus on academic, social, and emotional, prevention, community service projects, and health and wellness activities that enhance academic performance.


Our mentoring program provides mentoring and academic assistance for elementary school and high school students who have the desire to attend college, pursue a career in trade, stay goal oriented, and reach their highest potential. Mentors assist participants with academic support, social development, college and career exposure choices, financial literacy, and many other aspects of career and life preparation that students find challenging.

Sustainable Community Schools (SCS)

The Sustainable Community School partnerships bring together the academic and social supports needed to ensure that all students succeed by offering programs before, during and after the school day for students and their families.  The programs are designed to support the school’s academic program and expand the services offered within the community.

Extended Family Support Program

The extended family support program embraces the entire family, specifically when a relative unexpectedly becomes the primary caregiver to a child. Our program helps ease this transition and enhance caregivers’ ability to provide physical, emotional, and social development needs to the child while receiving support of their own as well.

Fatherhood Initiative

A positive environment for fathers to come together and support one another while learning parenting skills and seeking employment opportunities.

Family Advocacy Centers

Family Advocacy Centers (FAC), a partnership between Family Focus and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to provide classes and one-on-one support to parents who have been reported to DCFS for potential abuse and neglect.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (GRG)

The grandparent raising grandchildren program works to locate, assist, and promote awareness of older caregivers who are currently raising their family’s children.  The GRG provides support groups, arts and craft, information and referral assistance, and training professionals and facilitators to meet grandparents needs.

Housing Advocacy Program

The housing advocacy program provides services to assist youth and families, referred by DCFS, whose goal is to “remain stable” or “return home” to locate and maintain adequate housing. Services are to promote permanency by maintaining, strengthening, and safeguarding the function of families to (1) prevent substitute care placement, (2) promote family reunification, (3) facilitate youth development, and (4) ensure the safety, permanency and well-being of children.

Immigration Services

Programs for education and connections to services for immigrants to help reduce linguistic, legal, and cultural barriers.

Trauma-Focused Programs

Trauma-informed, therapeutic interventions for families with children under the age of six who have experienced a traumatic event.  This also includes staff training and development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click the + buttons below to expand and read more about each topic.

"How can I support the new Family Focus?"

If you would like to make a gift to help support the integration of Family Focus and Chicago Child Care Society into the new Family Focus, please make a donation online or contact Kelsey Miklos at [email protected].

"Who do I contact with questions about donations or grants?"

Please reach out to Deb Schlies at [email protected] if you have any questions about past or future donations for either CCCS or Family Focus.

"I receive services from Family Focus or Chicago Child Care Society. How does this affect me?"

Our families and participants are our top priority, and our mission to support families is not changing. You should not experience any changes in the quality or structure of your program or the services you rely on. Any changes that might affect your program will be communicated well in advance by the staff member in charge of your program. If you have any concerns, please speak with the staff member in charge of your programming.

"Is my center or day care site closing?"

No. All Family Focus centers and former CCCS locations and day care centers will continue to operate as normal. This merger is being done with the goal of expanding our reach and we have no current plans to close down any Family Focus or CCCS site.

"I have post-adoption inquiries."

The merger will not interrupt our adoption services. For more information, please contact: Heshima Mance, Senior Director of Programs, at (773) 643-0452 ext. 2418 or [email protected].