Fabi Ochoa and Kieran Cassillo are foster parents at Little City . . . but there is so much more to their story.

While they knew they always wanted to foster, they did not expect to be able to do so much so quickly and establish lifelong relationships not just with the children, but the families as well.

The young Chicago couple has fostered six children through Little City so far in a three-year span and has learned that family really is everything when it comes to being a foster parent.

“Anytime we have a foster child, our goal is to keep a strong relationship with the biological family,” said Fabi, a social worker herself. “There is a misconception about people who need foster care, but I always tell people these families love their children. They really love them and just are in a tough spot or need a little help for a while.”

Because of donors like you who support the Foster Care & Adoption program, Fabi and Kieran are able to play a vital role in addressing a statewide issue as more than 16,000 children need foster care. Placements can be even more difficult for children with developmental disabilities or emotional or behavioral challenges.

“We’ve fostered kids with autism and with cerebral palsy and those are issues I haven’t worked with before as a teacher,” Kieran said. “It has been great to learn about those disabilities and how to work with kids who have those issues and they’ve been just really sweet and great kids.”

Fabi said the children they fostered in the past still come to visit – and even sleepover at times – and the parents are always thankful and grateful and treat Fabi and Kieran like part of their own

family. She said that dynamic has motivated them to keep fostering and made them realize the stigma that foster parents and biological families are destined to bump heads.

“In some ways, there is not just this goal to reunify the child with their biological family, but to have the parents still raising the kid even while they are in our home,” Kieran said. “So we are sure to communicate with them, get their feedback and try to plan their future together.”

The strong relationships with both the children they have cared for and the families is in part thanks to Little City, Fabi said. In her work as a social worker and her involvement in foster family groups, she said she has seen and heard plenty of examples where case workers and agencies become unreachable and unhelpful.

But she said no matter the case worker who has been assigned to them, everyone at Little City has gone above and beyond in helping anyway they can along the way. This is the impact you have on this life-changing program for kids who need a family.

“I’ve wanted to be a foster parent for as long as I can remember and the experience has been even better than I could have imagined,” Fabi said. “We’re going to keep doing it for as long as we can.”

Fabi and Kieran’s next foster child joined them in February and will be the longest term placement they’ve had, potentially staying with them up to eight years. They simply see it as another opportunity to make another family, family.

Interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent with Little City? Email [email protected] to get involved!