Looking back on starting our 24-hour crisis program

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In 1985, Alternatives launched its 24-hour crisis intervention program as one among a state-wide network of organizations that were funded through a Comprehensive Community-based Youth Services (CCBYS) grant to support young people who were homeless or who had been locked out or run away from their homes. The program, that we call Family Intervention Services, provides case management services to young people who are facing serious challenges, and works to build on their strengths to regain stability.

This program helps young people find temporary housing, either within their family or through a placement with one of our partner organizations, The Night Ministry or Teen Living Programs. From there, young people and families have access to case management and individual and family counseling services to help address the root cause of the conflict. The goal is to help find a safe and stable place for the young person to live within their family and divert them from the child welfare or juvenile justice systems.

“What I learned from my four years leading the CCBYS Program at Alternatives is that, despite their many challenges, families in crisis are resilient and resourceful. I was inspired by the their hope and determination to face their struggles and improve their lives.”
-Jill Zimmerman, Alternatives’ staff member from 1994-2005, Crisis and Family Intervention Services from 1993-1998

Alternatives’ therapists use strengths-based approaches to resolve family conflict and help young people build the skills they need to succeed.

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Young people in Alternatives' mentoring program through Family Intervention Services.

Today, Alternatives’ Family Intervention Services has expanded to work with young people across most of the east side of Chicago. We work east of the Chicago river from Howard to the Loop, then east of the Dan Ryan through 95th Street. In this area, we partner with 10 schools, partner organizations, and work in our two centers to connect with youth either in crisis or at an elevated risk of crisis, and we provide both therapy and group programs.

One of our most recent developments is a mentoring program focused on civic and community engagement. The first group of young people recently organized a Community Service Project at the You Can Make It homeless shelter.

As we expand, we are continuing to listen to what youth want from these services, collaborate with other organizations, and build stronger community along with youth.

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