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Chicago DFSS - Department of Family and Support Services programs.

The lead agency in Chicago for seniors, low income families, veterans, the homeless, and single parents may be the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services. This non-profit, government affiliated agency supports hundreds of thousands of residents per year and offers them assistance with a number of needs. Dozens of centers or partner agencies, including community action agencies, are located across the city. Some examples of the assistance available includes free food, Child Care, emergency utility and rent help, Head Start, help for seniors, and even some basic health check ups. More details on these and other resources is below.

Programs in Chicago for students, youth, and children

Both the Early Head Start program for very young children/infants is available as well as the similar Head Start, which is for slightly older children. These two federally funded resources provide educational and early childhood development activities. The goal is to promote school readiness for children ranging in birth to age five. The children need to be from qualified low income families.

Other services provided by Chicago Department of Family and Support Services from the Head Start program include free health care services, food, snacks, and nutritious meals. Their parents can also take part and will benefit from parent education, social services and job training. Both of these fall under the Ready to Learn umbrella. Dial 312-823-1100.

Child care vouchers and financial assistance is offered in Chicago. The city can arrange quality, affordable day and child care. This will enable their parents to continue to either work or maybe participate in approved job training programs.

Students and children can also benefit from the Summer Nutrition Program. This is offered at hundreds of locations across the city, including many churches, parks, DFSS sites, and non-profit locations. The food assistance program provides those that are 18 years and younger with free, nutritious meals. This can include breakfasts, lunches and snacks. As indicated, the program is run from numerous community-based sites across the city including Chicago Housing Authority sites and faith-based facilities. Call 312-743-0208.




Another program focused on students and children is the Summer Youth Employment Program. This also runs during the summer months and can provide youth with summer employment. The jobs are meant to be career oriented and they can help students develop transferable skills to increase future employability. The summer job will also give them training, guidance, experience and supervision for their future growth. there are also programs for such activities as side hustle jobs.

Jobs and activities for youth may also be available from the One Summer Chicago initiative, which is one of the Department of Family Support services This is when the city may be able to provide employment opportunities in partnership with other City departments, the Cook County government, and not for profit agencies.

The citywide After School and School Breaks Program provide youth under the age of 18 with out of and after school activities that can enrich their lives. Other services can include the Mentoring Program which safely connects youth with mentors who share their experience and knowledge. The Intensive Youth Services Program offers home visits, case management, outreach mediation, prevention workshops, life skills, and other activities for students. Maybe the last DFSS resource is the Behavioral Health Services Program, which offers family and individual counseling to help them overcome issues with education, socialization and provide further family stability.

Financial assistance programs from the Department of Family and Support Services

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services is a place that very low income families and residents turn to financial support. In some cases, direct assistance may be offered for rent, energy bills, medications, and more. In other cases a DFSS social worker will refer clients to other state of Illinois or federal government resources. This office is the regional community action agency.





The HUD-funded Shelter Plus is available for hundreds of units in Chicago. This program provides a rental housing subsidy for disabled, homeless people. They can be facing disabilities such as mental illness, HIV/AIDS, or substance use disorders. The federal government HUD agency will pay for housing subsidies for income and otherwise eligible clients.

The Chicago Homeless Outreach and Prevention program can assist people facing imminent eviction and the currently homeless. They can receive a number of services including outreach, case management, and more. The teams that work as part of HOP and Chicago Department of Family and Support Services can also provide residents with information and referral, job placement and travel support to shelters. Also get referrals and details on local community resources, some of which can help with rent. Call 312-743-1524, or find other rent assistance in Chicago.

Cooling and warming centers are available. Some of the Community Service Centers can provide people a place to go to get out of the cold or heat during the summer. Water, blankets, or maybe even a fan may be disbursed too.

Assistance is offered for victims of domestic violence, including women and children. Dozens of community-based programs are available and offer assistance including case management, legal representation, linkage to ancillary services, shelter, court advocacy, and counseling. Also get help with long term needs which can be met by job placement and training. 1-877-863-6338.

Shelters and transitional housing is coordinated by Department of Family and Support Services. Residents across the city can receive a place to stay, food pantry referrals, gently used clothing, domestic violence assistance, and access to job training and placement in Cook County and the city. Those staying at a center can also get information on where to turn to for rental, utility bill and other short and long term financial assistance programs. Many of these resources are offered as part of the DFSS and the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness program.

Currently homeless can get help from other resources. They include outreach and engagement, specialized services such as employment training and placement, homelessness prevention for future needs, community-based case management, and more. For those that are qualified, also get help in filing public benefits applications for programs such as section 8 or low income energy and heating bill assistance.

The Mobile Outreach Program is available in partnership with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. This organization will provide the homeless with emergency food assistance, transportation and shelter placement, well-being checks, and more. Much of this aid is for victims of fire, flood and other natural disasters.

DFSS employment resources and assistance for Chicago veterans

There are two Chicago Veterans Resource Offices. They are located at 4740 N. Sheridan Road (312-744-7582) as well as 2102 W. Ogden Avenue (dial 312-743-0720). Staff at these locations focus on assisting veterans with securing employment and filing for any benefits or government aid. They can also support with health care and related issues.





Workforce Development Services is mostly for high need and at risk residents. This includes immigrants, homeless individuals, formerly incarcerated residents, and persons with limited English proficiency. The community action agency coordintes this. As part of the employment services, job training, and workshops, clients will be able to acquire valuable work experience and skills and experience. 312-746-7760. Or clients can find other ways to increase income from jobs and training.

Assistance for seniors

Many resources are available as part of Senior Services and the local Area Agency on Aging offices. Tens of thousands of older Chicago adults use these DFSS affiliated centers and assistance programs every year. The goal is to ensure seniors, the elderly and their advocates have everything they need. Case managers want to ensure they understand all their options regarding public and private benefits, services and programs and staff can assist individuals through the application process for these benefits. 312-744-4016

Meals are offered across Chicago by the Golden Diners Program. They are served daily and are for seniors and their spouses age 60 and over. Residents can receive hot, nutritious lunches. They are served at dozens of centers and communal locations across the city, including many Chicago Department of Family and Support Services sites. Those that are homebound can receive Home Delivered Meals. Thousands of qualified homebound older adults and elderly receive help from these services each year.

Older Relatives Raising Children program is a kinship type resource offered by DFSS. People taking care of other children (such as a grandparent serving as a guardian for a grand child) can receive family mediation, counseling, case advocacy, support groups, respite services and information on financial support.

In addition to these resources, the regional senior centers help the less fortunate, older members of the community. Assistance is also offered for their caregivers. The locations can provide resources for caregivers, health and fitness programs, cultural activities, free access to computer learning centers, the Golden Diners meals program (per above), and more. Find more information on agency on aging centers in Illinois.

In-home services can help seniors live independently. Thousands of individuals across Chicago take advantage of this program. They can get help so they can continue to reside in their communities. Call 312-744-4016.







Locations of citywide DFSS Community Service Center

  • Englewood Center is located at 1140 W. 79th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60620. Call 312-747-0200.
  • Trina Davila, 4357 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60639, 312-744-2014
  • Garfield Center, 10 S. Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612, 312-746-5400
  • King Center. The site is based out of an office at 4314 S. Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL 60653. Call 312-747-2300 for intake.
  • North Area, 4740 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60640, 312-744-2580
  • The southern part of Chicago is served by a DFSS location at 8650 S. Commercial Avenue, Chicago, IL 60617, 312-747-0500.

Senior center sites, including agency on aging and DFSS locations

  • Northeast Regional Senior Center. Address is 2019 W. Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60625. The main number is 312-744-0784
  • Southwest Regional Senior Center, 6117 S. Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60629, 312-747-0440
  • Northwest Regional Senior Center operates from an office at 3160 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60618. Call 312-744-6681 for intake.
  • Central West Regional Senior Center, 2102 W. Ogden Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612. The main number for information is 312-746-5300
  • Southeast Regional Senior Center, 1767 E. 79th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60649, 312-747-0189
  • Renaissance Court Regional Senior Center, 78 E. Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602, main number is 312-744-4550
  • Abbott Park Satellite Senior Center, 49 East 95th Street, Chicago, IL 60619, 312-745-3493
  • Edgewater Satellite Senior Center, 5917 N. Broadway, Chicago, Illinois 60660, call 312-742-5323 for information on senior programs.
  • Englewood Satellite Senior Center. The elderly can use this center at 653-657 W. 63rd Street, Chicago, IL 60621. Call 312-745-3328 for hours and details.
  • West Town Satellite Senior Center - Address is 1613 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60622. Main number is 312-743-1016.
  • Kelvyn Park Satellite Senior Center, 2715 N. Cicero Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60639. Dial the center at 312-744-3350.
  • Auburn Gresham Satellite Senior Center. The location is 1040 W. 79th Street, Chicago, IL 60620, telephone - 2-745-4797
  • Norwood Park Satellite Senior Center, 5801 N. Natoma Ave., Chicago, IL 60631, 773-775-6071
  • Garfield Ridge Satellite Senior Center, 5674-B S. Archer Ave., Chicago, IL 60638, 312-745-4255
  • Chatham Satellite Senior Center, 8300 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60619, 312-745-0401
  • Austin Satellite Senior Center, 5071 W. Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60644. Call 312-743-1538 for intake.
  • North Center Satellite Senior Center. Address is 4040 N. Oakley Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618, phone 312-744-4015
  • Portage Park Satellite Senior Center, 4100 N. Long Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60641, 312-744-9022
  • Pilsen Satellite Senior Center can be stopped by at 2021 S. Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60608. Telephone number is 312-743-0493.
  • Roseland Satellite Senior Center, 10426 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60628, 312-745-1500
  • South Chicago Satellite Senior Center, 9233 S. Burley Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60617, 312-745-1282

Chicago Veterans Services and resource office locations

  • Central West Office, 2102 W. Ogden Avenue, 312-743-0720 or 312-743-0719
  • North Area Office supports veterans in the area and is located at 4740 N. Sheridan Road. Call 312-744-7582


By Jon McNamara











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