Creative Workspace: Little City Foundation Makes its Home in Historic Chicago Office Lofts

Little City Foundation, located in the historic loft offices of the Universal Building near West Town, has been serving children and adults with autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities in the Chicago area for more than 50 years.

The non-profit was founded by a group of parents who wanted to educate the public on intellectual disabilities, and, at the same time, provide programs and assistance that would help children and adults living with these afflictions establish a life of dignity, opportunity and respect.

The longevity of the organization is a tribute to its success and it has expanded from its home base in Palatine, Ill., to include offices in Chicago at the Universal Building.

Along with the expansion to Chicago, Little City began to offer new services and programs to help clients and their families.

In the Chicago office, also known as the Center for Family & Community-Based Services, Little City offers foster care and adoption services as well as in-home support services for individuals who have disabilities and the families who care for them.

“We are family and community-based,” said Richard Bobby, director of the Center for Family & Community-Based Services. “All the services we provide are focused on families and in the families’ community. We recruit and train loving families for children who have disabilities and are in the foster care system, and provide therapy and support services for all our families in their homes. The foster care program just marked its 20th anniversary.”

Foster care programs through Little City are funded by the Department of Child and Family Services. Bobby estimates that about 98 percent of the children that Little City works with have autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“We typically work with about 50 kids each year and end up placing 10-15 children into loving foster homes and we assist with establishing ‘forever families’ through the adoption of an average of 10 children per year,” said Bobby. “We find homes all throughout the Chicago area and the suburbs.”

Once a placement has been made, Little City professionals will do in home visits three times a month to check on the family and progress of the child. The organization also provides training classes in its offices at the Universal Building for foster families.

Little City also works with the Department of Human Services to provide in-home supports to families who have a child or an adult with an intellectual or developmental disability.

“We go into over 100 homes to provide support for families who have children or adults with special needs,” said Bobby. “Parents or guardians sometimes need a break and we provide that opportunity for them. We don’t just act as caretakers though. We try to teach clients basic life skills that will help them in their everyday lives. We establish proactive goals with the family and set targets for the clients that we are working with.

“One goal a recent family had was to have the ability to go out to eat together as a family without disruption. Because of our staff’s hard work this goal was accomplished. This may seem small to many, but not to this particular family.”

Little City recently renewed its lease for five years at the Universal Building and moved to a newly renovated loft office suite. The organization can hold classes in its loft office space for families and clients and run its day-to-day operations.

Bobby wants to expand their services as well by opening up classes to the community at large for families who are caring for an individual with autism, intellectual, or developmental disabilities.

The location of the Universal Building, at 700 Sacramento in Chicago, was the biggest selling point for Bobby and Little City.

“We recently did a geographic study of where our clients are located and it turns out that the Universal Building is practically the most centralized address we could have,” he said. “We service families in all areas of Chicago and this location allows us to be efficient with our travel.”

The high-quality loft office space and the unique history of  the Chicago building also were appealing to Bobby.

“The building is in fantastic condition and the management has been amazing to work with,” he said. “It’s cool to work in a building in Chicago that has an interesting history and functions as great loft office space.”

If you or someone you know has any interest in becoming a foster or adoptive parent or in caring for an individual who has autism, an intellectual, or developmental disability, please call us at 773-265-1539, visit our website at www.littlecity.org, or simply swing by Suite 201 at the Universal Building.

For more information about leasing office lofts in The Universal Building in Chicago, please call 773.342.2020

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