Good Shepherd Center, a community advocate for children and adults, with and without disabilities, provides support, services, and education that empower individuals and families to lead exceptional lives.
GOOD SHEPHERD CENTER HISTORY 1963-2021
Good Shepherd Center was founded in 1963, as a school for children with developmental disabilities (DD) ages 6 weeks to the age of 7 in the Good Shepherd church, in Park Forest. In 1968, the school received a grant from the State of Illinois to increase the number of children served. Due to a lack of available space, the school moved to Flossmoor Community Church.
In the 1970’s the Federal Government passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that requires school districts to begin services for children with DD or delays at the age of 3. The agency then evolved into an Early Intervention program that serves children age’s birth to 3. Through this program we provide therapies to improve the overall physical condition of the child, while preparing them to transition to public school Early Childhood programs most effectively.
In 1976, Louise discussed with State officials about parents of children with DD needing an occasional break and assisted in the development of the State In-Home Respite Care program.
In 2006, the agency became a Community Partner program in collaboration with Illinois Action for Children. Through this program Good Shepherd Center provides training opportunities and support for every Day Care Center and Home provider in south suburban Cook County area. This training and support include all areas of information relevant to child development with an increased ability to provide information on the care and treatment of children with DD.
In 2008, we initiated the provision of our annual conference, Strong Children ~ Strong Communities to provide parents and educators with needed educational and support information that targets topical issues regarding children with and without DD. As the largest bi-lingual conference in the Chicago area, we provide sessions in English and Spanish, as well as exhibitors and sponsors that present goods and services to support the needs of children.
In 2013, we initiated the Waiver program which provides supports to eligible children and young adults with DD who live at home with their families. Services include teaching adaptive skills to assist the individual to reach personal goals and Respite Care.
In 2015 we proudly acquired the Acorn Child Care Center in Oak Forest, Illinois. Finding high quality child Care for children with special needs can be very difficult for parents so by initiating this new service we hope to address that problem.
In 2017, we developed a Disability Speakers Bureau on a variety of topics on developmental disability that can be secured for any school, childcare center or parent group to assist in a better understanding of the special needs presented by those issues.
In 2018, we were awarded a grant to provide training and support for Child Care Providers on the handling of challenging behaviors in children. This program provided confidence in their ability to meet the child’s needs.
In 2021, the agency added Community Partner program services as described above for Providers in the northern Cook County area.
We are proud to have served children and families 1963 and look forward to many more years of making a positive difference in the lives of the families we serve.