In November, the newly renovated Birch Home was revealed – re-introducing a home specifically designed for children with high-intensity needs.

The new Birch Home will initially house four residents and feature environments specifically designed to help children with high-intensity needs remain safe, develop skills and prepare for a more independent lifestyle before heading into adult programming. The home features two sensory rooms, a room for one-on-one therapy, personal bedrooms and an expanded kitchen and laundry area to work on life skills in those areas.

“I feel great about what this team has helped create, because we needed a solution to helping people with high-intensity needs and now we have one,” said Shawn Jeffers, Little City Executive Director. “We can’t build homes like this fast enough to meet the need.”

The much-needed remodeling has put Little City at the forefront of a statewide issue as Illinois continues to struggle to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities, ranking 47th out of 50 states when it comes to funding those services. The lack of funding has disproportionately affected children with high-intensity needs as an alarming number are on a pipeline to state  institutions or needing to find placements out of state.

“The stories we’ve heard over and over again are just heartbreaking. The state of Illinois does not have the capacity needed to serve these children,” said Rich Bobby, Senior Chief Program Officer, Children’s Services. “This is not going to happen overnight, but the reality is we need to be part of the solution and my hope is to stop the pipeline to state institutions and out-ofstate placements.”

The environment created at the Birch Home has been commended by many and top state officials have asked Little City to create more homes just like it. And with your support in 2022, we can continue to help meet the need for those with developmental disabilities to continue to live safely, learn continuously, explore creatively, and work productively.

Little City wants to extend a special thank you to the many people who made this dream possible, especially Little City Board Member Dale Rublaitus for his advocacy and support, and the Department of Children and Family Services for its grant program that funded the renovation project. Thank you!