Easter Seals Disability Services

Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago

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Metropolitan Chicago honorary ambassador child Chase
Who We Are


1919 Elyria, Ohio businessman Edgar F. Allen, aided by Ohio Rotarians, spearheads the creation of the first state association for disabled children, a volunteer organization which will eventually be known as the National Easter Seal Society

1921 Allen forms the National Society for Crippled Children, with headquarters in Elyria, Ohio. Allen becomes the Society's first president and serves until 1937

November 5, 1936 A group of Chicago citizens meet over lunch in the library of the home of May and Howard Willett, Sr. to organize the Illinois Association for the Crippled under a charter from what was then the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults. A year earlier, an Easter Seal Group in Evanston and the North Shore was formed. It later became an affiliate of the Illinois Association for the Crippled, known as the North Shore Association for the Crippled, which in the early 1960's it merged with the Chicago Society

1938 Homebound Industries, a pioneering work program for individuals with disabilities is launched. It is the only industrial program of its kind in the country. Homebound Industries includes the Homebound Craft program and paves the way for our Society's own retail store "Briar Patch Shop"

December 6, 1947 The Illinois Association state office opens in Springfield

1960 Ridge Treatment Center, our Society's first rehabilitation facility, opens at 95th Street and Hoyne in Chicago

1968 Willett Rehabilitation Center opens at 120 West Madison Street in Oak Park. Later, the center becomes the home for Easter Seals Industries

February, 1969 Chicago Metropolitan Unit's name officially changes to Easter Seals Society of Metropolitan Chicago, Inc.

1972 The first annual Easter Seals Telethon is broadcast locally in conjunction with the new National Easter Seals Telethon which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1996. The Telethon quickly becomes Easter Seals' largest single fundraising event involving the participation of more than 1,500 Chicago-area volunteers and hundreds of local businesses

October 28, 1973 A.J. Brandecker Rehabilitation Center, formerly Ridge Treatment Center, opens at 9455 South Hoyne Avenue

August, 1975 The Easter Seals Dental Program is launched to meet the dental needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities who are unable to participate in available conventional dental services.  In its first five years of operation, the program provides preventive and comprehensive dental care to more than 9,600 individuals with disabilities.  By 1985, the number of people served annually reaches 4,000

June 26, 1977 Gilchrist-Marchman Center, the first and only bilingual rehabilitation center in the Chicago area, opens at 2345 West North Avenue in Chicago

January, 1983 The Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) awards the highest three-year accreditation includes outstanding commendations for programs, fund raising and administration

1987 The Easter Seal Society of Lake County merges with the Easter Seal Society of Chicago, further expanding our base. With the help of IBM, many disabled individuals throughout the Midwest are able to purchase computers and receive professional support through Easter Seals

1991 Our strong financial and even stronger human resources initiatives allow us to increase delivery of our core rehabilitation services by 25%. New programs are added, including Early Intervention Programs, the Summer Camp, the Vision Program and expansion of the Dental Program in Lake County

1992 The Early Intervention Program begins with a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services, making Easter Seals the largest provider of Early Intervention services in the Chicago area. The first Head Start Program begins at Gilchrist-Marchman

1994 Easter Seal Society of Metropolitan Chicago acquires the Therapeutic Day School from Humana Michael Reese, which serves children ages 3-21 diagnosed with autism, emotional behavior disorder and/or severe learning disabilities

1995 In January, we acquire the McHenry-Boone counties service territory and soon begin serving clients in this new region

1996 Through a contract with the local area network of Southside Chicago, a Respite Program is started. Thanks to funding from the Jeffrey Foundation, the After School Program located at the Therapeutic Day School opens and provides further educational and social experiences

1998 Child and Family Connection # 8 begins through a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services. The program provides Early Intervention services to infants and toddlers, birth to three years of age, who have significant developmental delays.

1999 Easter Seal Society of Metropolitan Chicago changes its name to Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago, Inc.

April, 1999 Windy City Kids Child Development Center, a high quality, comprehensive child development program for children ages six weeks to five years, opens at 600 West Madison. This is Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago's first contract with the federal government to provide inclusive full-day early child care. Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago partners with the Chicago Park District providing approximately 75 children and adults with disabilities recreational opportunities and one-on-one aides

September 15, 1999 Our second Therapeutic Day School opens at 7400 West 183rd Street Willow Hall, Building 19, Tinley Park Illinois

2000 Through a grant from the Chicago Department of Human Services, Early Head Start Family Child Care Homes begins placing children in licensed day care homes.  Early Head Start is based on four cornerstones: child development, family development, community building and staff development

April, 2000 Project ABLE, funded by the City of Chicago and the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development, provides employment and job placement services to "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families" (TANF) recipients with disabilities on Chicago's West and South sides

2001 Youth at Risk Reaching for Adulthood Program (RAP) is funded by the Workforce Investment Act and the City of Chicago Mayor's Office of Workforce Development. The program helps adolescents and young adults achieve self-sufficiency and independence through education, training and employment. Yoga for Kids begins at Gilchrist-Marchman Head Start and is featured on WGN-Channel 9, WLS-Channel 7, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Parent Magazine

June, 2001 Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago's Therapeutic Day School Chicago receives a National Easter Seals "Award of Excellence"

July, 2001 Willett Rehabilitation Center is certified by the Illinois Department of Human Services Office of Rehabilitation Services to provide vocational assessment, job readiness training, job placement and follow-up services to people with disabilities for a fee-for-service basis

October 15, 2001 Through direct funding from the federal government, Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago creates Near South Side Early Head Start to provide center-based, full-day, year-round service to families. This marks Chicago Public Schools' first partnership with a nonprofit organization

December, 2001 Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago’s Gilchrist-Marchman Head Start is granted accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This prestigious recognition has been achieved by only 7% of early childhood programs nationwide. The center also received the Non-Profit Organization of the Year Award presented by the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce

June 3, 2002 National Easter Seals awards the Gilchrist-Marchman Yoga Kids Program an Honorable Mention in the Easter Seals Excellence in Service Innovation competition

August, 2002 Child & Family Connections (CFC) # 8 early intervention is rated number one out of 28 CFC's in Illinois for completing individual Family Service Plans within the mandated timeline of 45 days

September, 2002 Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago receives another three-year accreditation through The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).  CARF announces that our agency received this prestigious accreditation for the following services: Community Services, Case Management/Services Coordination; Child and Youth Services; Employment Services, Community Employment Services in Job Development, Job Supports and Job-Site Training

May, 2003 Willett Rehabilitation Center is acknowledged as a successful grantee through a collaborative effort with Easter Seals National Headquarters to provide employment services to seniors over 55 through the Title V Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

August, 2003 Governor Rod Blagojevich signs Senate Bill 1239 granting $4 million for costs associated with capital expenses for the new Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research facility to be built in the Illinois Medical District.  This grant was supported through Illinois Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan

2004 Easter Seals celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the Easter "Seal".  In 1934, the National Society for Crippled Children badly needed funds. The group recommended a sale of "penny seals" as part of a major fundraising drive

July 1, 2004 Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago begins administration of Child and Family Connections (CFC) #12.  CFC #12 joins our CFC #8 in providing the highest quality early intervention services in south Chicagoland and the south suburbs

November, 2004 Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago’s Therapeutic Day School in Tinley Park dedicates the new Aigner Sensory Therapy Suite. The therapy suite is based on the Snoezelen design and focuses on improving sensory integration for persons with autism

April, 2005 Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago Receives three year CARF Accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) announces that Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago has been re-accredited for a period of three years in the following service areas: Community Services, Case Management/Services Coordination; Child and Youth Services; Employment Services, Community Employment Services in Job Development, Job Supports and Job-Site Training

May, 2006 Easter Seals' Children's Development Center in Rockford successfully merges with Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago.  Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago now serves over 14,000 clients annually

July, 2006 Child and Family Connections #12 and Easter Seals' Therapeutic Day School Tinley Park relocate to the great Kirby School facility at 17300 Ozark Avenue, Tinley Park.  This wonderful facility allows these two cornerstone programs to greatly increase the number of children served in an enhanced facility

October, 2006  A groundbreaking ceremony is held to celebrate the beginning of construction for our one-of-a-kind Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research.  Construction on Phase 1 of the state-of-the-art project begins in April, 2007 during Autism Awareness month

July, 2007 Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago revises the names of its Therapeutic Day School Programs to "Autism Therapeutic School" programs to more accurately reflect the focus of our experience and expertise in providing the highest quality services to children and adolescents with autism

August, 2007 Our Gilchrist-Marchman Inclusive Childcare Center relocates to a larger facility at 1001 West Roosevelt Road

August, 2007  Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago opens the Autism Therapeutic School Rockford

September, 2007 Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago expands to serve over 22,000 clients

May, 2008 Phase I of Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago's Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research opens!!

September, 2012 Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago grows to serve nearly 30,000 clients

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