Being a parent or caregiver in 2020 is tough, to say the least. Whether you’ve just welcomed your first child into the world or already raising a family of toddlers and teenagers, the challenges you face are unique. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced parents and caregivers to take on more responsibilities than normal, caused restricted access to services and it has changed the way parents navigate the home.
“Overwhelming” would be a monumental understatement. Kids are hard work! They demand all of your time, energy, dedication and love. The challenge becomes even more complicated when you’re raising your children in a bustling metropolitan city like Chicago. Taxes are high, public services are complex and it’s every man and woman for themselves.
So our team here at WLG have compiled a list of 5 free resources for Chicago parents that could make your life easier during the pandemic.
1. HEALTHCARE: Free Clinic Directory
At this point, there is nothing more crucial than your family’s health and wellbeing. Covid-19 is not to be underestimated and it can be difficult to know who to turn to for reliable quality health services. The Free Clinic Directory is a brilliant resource that connects you to free clinics and health centers around Chicago, as well as the rest of the nation. A simple location search will net you hundreds of healthcare options for facilities and phone services, whether you are insured or not.
2. EDUCATION: Chicago Teachers’ Union
If you’re out of your wits looking for resources for your children, you are not alone! There is nothing more important to parents than their children’s educational success. While Remote Learning is improving with every school week, it still has its limitations, most notably its reduced ability to address students’ social and emotional learning, among other things.
Thankfully, the Chicago Teachers’ Union has stepped up to address these educational gaps as well as a variety of other obstacles. CTU is currently providing an ample amount of free resources to parents and students to help them get through the school year during the pandemic. Everything from food deliveries to immigrant and refugee services to Covid-19 testing sites to e-learning tools, the Chicago Teachers’ Union has been one of the most valuable allies to parents and families. This is especially important during 2020, when political turmoil has historically shortchanged the education industry.
Over the years, CTU has become a safe haven directory for parents to consult when they are in a bind, so make the most of what is offered!
3. IMMIGRANT & REFUGEE SERVICES: Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
The ICIRR has been operating since 1986, dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees navigate their new lives in America. In addition to their abundance of free resources, they are also a major player in advocacy, constantly pushing for change in immigration law as well as hosting events to help those in need.
The ICIRR boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of resources for those who do not have resident or citizen status. Their website is rich with free resources including free/low-cost healthcare access, educational resources for college admissions, free citizenship services and family support helplines.
ICIRR is also a great community builder, offering platforms for research, policy and civic engagement. This is especially crucial for younger immigrants, who are still learning to balance the change in their lifestyle and culture.
4. UTILITIES: Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
Housing and rent has proven to be one of the most devastating issues for Chicago parents, especially for those experiencing unemployment. You shouldn’t have to worry about missing basic utilities, like power and hot water, for your family. And it doesn’t help that the city’s support services are drying up. But one great service still available is LIHEAP.
The service is geared towards those who are experiencing difficulty paying their energy bills. The best thing about LIHEAP is that you can qualify for assistance, even if your energy bills are already included in your rent.
Due to the high volume of applicants during the Coronavirus pandemic, LIHEAP has become more difficult to access. The traditional avenues for applications have changed, but they are still available.
- General information and eligibility criteria can be found HERE
- Application sites are not open for face-to-face applications, however, applications are still open via phone. You can find the nearest site to you and its contact details by accessing CEDA’s directory HERE
The Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, Inc. (CEDA) is one of the largest private, nonprofit Community Action Agencies in the country, serving residents throughout Cook County, Illinois.
The University of DePaul is synonymous with high quality higher education. It is one of Chicago’s most prestigious universities and boasts a long history of academic excellence. But their achievements don’t stop there. During the pandemic they are offering free family counselling and homework tutoring for students.
It cannot be stressed enough how valuable this service is for parents. Their secure virtual counselling sessions are not only free at this time, but they are also conducted by graduate counseling interns serving under the direct supervision of doctoral level licensed clinicians who conduct counseling sessions for individuals of all ages, couples, and groups. Life in an urban megacity like Chicago during a pandemic is mentally and emotionally draining. You don’t have to suffer alone!
Meanwhile, their free virtual tutoring is available for all elementary and high school students who need assistance with typical school subjects like Math, Literature and Social Sciences. Who better to help your child with their homework than one of the biggest names in Chicago higher education? Your children should not have to compromise their learning because of the Coronavirus.
DePaul’s services are so well-regarded, in fact, that many Chicago Public Schools counsellors are currently recommending them for students and families.