What types of children do you care for?

Our young people come to us with a wide variety of challenges:

– Low self-esteem and depression
– Academic issues, such a failing grades, poor attendance, or disciplinary problems
– Pressure from gangs or neighborhood violence
– Relational difficulties with adults or siblings
– Abuse, abandonment or neglect
– Family members who are in jail or on drugs

The common thread that connects our children to Mercy Home is that they have experienced trauma and that they are committed to changing their lives.

Where do your young people come from?

The kinds of issues Mercy Home’s young people struggle with in their own families are not exclusive to any race, geographic region, or economic class. Mercy Home’s young people largely come from communities throughout the Chicago metropolitan area but we also serve young people from across the state.

While some may be middle class and suburban, most of our young people come from some of the most challenging urban environments of troubled inner-city neighborhoods where poverty, violence, gangs and crime and every-day dangers that place extra stresses on a child’s health and progress.

Mercy Home accepts children who are referred to us from families, from schools, from the Department of Children and Family Services and more.

Can you help every child who comes to you?

Yes. Mercy Home is committed to helping very child who comes to us in crisis.

Still, many young people who contact us may fall outside of the age range for admission into the home, or have personal problems that lie beyond the scope of our direct care services.

For children like these, we connect them to a network of partner agencies throughout the community so that they may receive the most appropriate referral that addresses their specific needs.

What are examples of problems that are beyond the scope of direct care services?

Mercy Home cannot admit young people who:

– Have psychoses
– Have perpetuated sexual or physical abuse
– Are actively suicidal
– Are currently self-mutilating
– Are pregnant
– Are fire-setting
– Have a primary diagnosis of substance abuse
– Have a profound learning disorder or have an IQ under 80
– Have severe behavior or emotional disorders

But again, we can help kids like these by offering them a referral to the most appropriate agency to meet their specific challenges.

Does Mercy Home have waiting lists to get in?

In some instances, there may be a wait to enter the Home. Some of the individual programs fill up and we begin a waitlist on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Being on the waitlist does not mean a youth has been accepted – just that he or she is waiting to go forward with the admissions process. We do our best to predict when a space will be available.

For those whom Mercy Home cannot admit, we do everything right away to help them in their moment of crisis. We provide them with access to a network of support agencies that may be able to address their specific needs.

Does Mercy Home work with substance abuse?

No. We are a residential home, not an in-patient substance abuse facility. Some of our young people have attended out-patient drug treatment programs while residing at Mercy Home, but we give all incoming youth a drug drop which must read negative before the youth is admitted.

Can youth go home on the weekends and for holidays?

Yes, and we encourage family involvement whenever possible. All of our kids return home (if possible) for holidays, and can earn weekend passes by displaying good behavior and responsibility.

How long do children live at Mercy Home?

Participating in Mercy Home’s residential treatment programs is entirely voluntary, and a young person may stay as long as needed, depending on their individual goals and personal circumstances. We do, however, ask for a year’s commitment upon admission, so we encourage you to think carefully about your decision to agree to residential placement at Mercy Home.

Is Mercy Home for bad kids?

No. In fact, we are a strengths-based program that believes there are no “bad kids.” And we recognize the impact of adverse childhood experiences on behavior, relationships, learning and more. Our trauma-responsive model of care shifts thinking from “What’s wrong with this person” to “What’s happened to this person.”

Does Mercy Home cost money?

Yes, but because of our very generous donors we are able to offer a very reasonable sliding-fee scale. See our payment charts:
•  Youth payment chart
•  Family payment chart (en español)

Does Mercy Home bill Medicaid or private insurance?

No. We use a sliding-fee scale only.

What if a youth is not accepted into Mercy Home?

Some youth need help with issues that might be better addressed by other agencies, such as those with severe substance abuse problems, for example. We offer young people like these a wide range of referral services in order to place each child in the program best suited to his or her needs.

Does Mercy Home work with wards of the state?

Yes, but only on occasion. Wards of the state must be referred officially by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

How long does the admissions process take?

While the length of this process can vary, we like people to be prepared for a two-month process from the initial phone call to the day the child moves in. Occasionally, the process can be delayed further by things such as record gathering and scheduling difficulties.

Does Mercy Home take guardianship?

No. Mercy Home works with guardians, but never takes guardianship. We get consent from our kids’ guardians to work with schools and medical professionals.

Is Mercy Home a school?

No. Mercy Home is a full-time residential program for young people. However, our School Resources Coordinators work with all youths during the admissions process to place them in the private or public school that is best suited to address his or her individual academic needs.