Thank you for taking a moment to read this letter

I so appreciate your interest in the well-being of children and families served by Family Focus! They are counting on us to be there during times of life transitions and challenges when extra support makes a big difference. You should know your support helps people of all ages through their teen years, fatherhood, coming to a new country, or becoming a parent. Thank you!

If you are a parent or remember your own childhood, you know that holiday time is joyful – but is also a big stress on parents, especially if they are already struggling to provide food and housing. There is a lot of pressure and deep desire to make the holidays special with big family dinners and a tradition in many households of presents for children.

For a moment, imagine you are that struggling parent and now you have three new babies in your family!

In April 2020, the Arevalo Family was blessed with the arrival of identical triplets! Three more girls, along with their first daughter who is seven years old, keep mom, dad, and grandmother busy, with assistance from Family Focus Highland Park.

The Arevalos had only lived in Waukegan a short time when they learned about Family Focus. They raised their first child in Mexico, so they didn’t know about family support services available in Illinois. Mrs. Arevalo recalls,

“My cousin invited us to a party, but because I was close to my due date and could hardly move around, I had planned to not attend. The night of the party, my husband and I went to drop something off, and my cousin insisted we stay for a bit. I met a woman who asked how far along I was. We chatted and she asked how I was going to manage buying so many diapers. She told me she was part of a home visiting program that assisted with diapers in Elgin. She took my phone number down and said she’d pass it along.

Then one day, right before I was going to give birth, someone from Family Focus Highland Park reached out. I knew this would be a huge help. My husband was going through the immigration process to obtain his residency status and was working landscaping jobs. But because there were days it rained or was too hot to work, he wasn’t bringing home a stable income.”

Parent Educator Vanessa Ocampo started home visits with the family, bringing diapers and formula but also instructional materials and activities that support child development and parent learning. These visits will continue until the toddlers are 3 years old, making sure they are reaching their milestones, getting all vaccinations and health screenings and supporting the whole family. Vanessa says, “Since they started the program, mom and grandmother have been fully invested in the triplet’s development and needs. Every opportunity mom gets, she asks questions and wants to learn more about how to best guide and support all three girls.”

Mrs. Arevalo describes Family Focus as a lifeline for her family. “When we started the program, we were given items like cribs, mattresses, double strollers. Then when the pandemic started, the car parades (delivering supplies) helped a lot. We were given gift cards to grocery stores, food, activities for the kids, and during the holiday season, the kids received gifts.”

The Arevalos are so grateful! With the average cost of diapers for one baby at $75/month, keeping three babies in clean diapers is just one of their challenges – $2,700 in the first year! “Family Focus has alleviated a financial burden and has given us a sense of peace within our home. We don’t have to worry about where we will get money for diapers or formula. Knowing that we can use that money on other bills has put us at ease and we can spend more family time together.”

Because of you and others extending a helping hand, the Arevalos and families like them have been able to survive and thrive by connecting to services at one of 11 Family Focus locations, including 3 former Chicago Child Care Society sites. The agency made over 21,000 home visits to 1,600 families last fiscal year and we’re on track to surpass that number this year.

Serving communities across Chicago and Northeast Illinois, Family Focus is your trusted partner if you believe in early childhood education, youth development and family support. The news is filled every day with the need for investments that support children and families so parents can get back to work – you can invest TODAY!

Your gift is put to work immediately, right in the communities where it is most needed. Thank you for considering a year-end contribution; I so appreciate that you are in this important work with Family Focus!

Happy Holiday Season,

Dara T. Munson, MPA
President and CEO