Throughout 2018, we are celebrating 135 years of meeting every child, every family, where their need is greatest. Doing whatever it takes so children and families can thrive. We are proud of our legacy of meeting the changing needs of vulnerable families throughout Illinois and inspired by the children and families we serve and their stories of resilience.

They say “It takes a village to raise a child.” Ivette Rivera-Weigle truly embraces this concept. “The Children’s Home & Aid Community Child Care Center of Palatine Township essentially saved my life, and my son’s life,” she explains. “If it weren’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be right now,” she adds.

Ivette came to Children’s Home & Aid as a pregnant 15-year-old. A student at Palatine High School, Ivette knew she wanted more for herself and her baby, and was determined to finish school. Ivette found hope when she learned she could raise her child while continuing her studies. With the help of Children’s Home & Aid she could attend classes while her son, Cesar, was looked after and cared for.

The rates at the Center were on a sliding scale – but not free. “Children’s Home & Aid held me accountable. My weekly payments toward Cesar’s care were subsidized, but I contributed what I could. Even though it wasn’t much, I was able to maintain my dignity knowing I was providing for my son,” Ivette recalls.

“The teachers at the Center were caring from day one,” she remembers. From coaxing the fussy eater to take a bottle, to helping Ivette keep track of his skills growth and progress, teachers partnered with Ivette each step of the way. “They worked with me and showed me what to do at home. Those little things made a big difference, because as a teenager, they were things I just didn’t know,” she remarks. “This is a testament to the organization and the heart that goes into everything they do.”

One teacher in particular, Miss Lisa, developed a treasured bond with Cesar. “Once he learned to crawl, he would make his way to Miss Lisa, then pull himself up and hug her tight,” Ivette recounts. Miss Lisa gave him the nickname “Squeeze”, and it’s stuck, to this day. “This showed me the strong bond the teachers had with the kids. I felt comfortable leaving him there because they were like family,” she reflects.

While the years passed by Ivette continued her studies, graduating with Palatine High School’s class of 2003. “I carried Cesar in my arms to accept my diploma, because we did it together,” she exclaims. But Ivette didn’t stop there. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in administration.

“The fact that I was able to get my bachelor’s and then my master’s …I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have support from Children’s Home & Aid.,” Ivette explains. “They said, ‘you may have fallen down, but take our hand and we’ll help you back up.’ And that’s exactly what they did.”

Ivette and Cesar at the Community Child Care Center of Palatine Township in December 2017.

Children’s Home & Aid’s story began with the vision of one man who believed that every child deserved a loving home. Your part is unfolding today.  What is your story?

See all of the stories  as part of our 135th anniversary.