Frequently Asked Questions
What does UCAN stand for?
UCAN stands for Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network. In 1867, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Gottfried Uhlich donated a large piece of property to perpetually endow the new orphanage, and the organization is named after the Uhlich family in appreciation for this generous beginning.
What does UCAN do?
UCAN is a social service organization which works with 12,000 children, youth and families in Illinois each year. Our primary clients are wards of the state child welfare system – these are children and youth who have been removed from their homes for reasons of abuse or neglect. We also work with the families of these children.
Our mission is to build strong youth and families through compassionate healing, education and empowerment. To this end, UCAN offers a full continuum of services including but not limited to a therapeutic youth home, a therapeutic day school, extensive community and violence prevention programs, support for pregnant or parenting teens, counseling, foster care placement, vocational training, and internships for promising former wards of the state. For a full list of our programs, please click here.
What makes UCAN different from other social service organizations?
UCAN has a 142 year history of servicing children, youth and families in Illinois. Our points of difference are:
- UCAN believes that everyone has a voice. Youth who have suffered trauma CAN become our future leaders, and we see this happen every day. To read the stories of some of our former clients, please click here.
- We run a full continuum of services which enables us to move clients from one program to another as their needs change, yet spares them the transitions and gaps caused by moves from one agency to another.
- All of our programs are united by a common clinical philosophy, which ensures that our approach to healing is cohesive and consistent
- UCAN is fully committed to diversity and inclusion, working to counteract the influence of discrimination on our communities and to provide culturally proficient services to our clients.
- We work in collaboration with many other organizations throughout Chicago. For a list of partners, please click here.
What is the CITY Initiative?
The Chicago Institute for Transforming Youth (CITY) is UCAN's bold new solution to the violence crisis harming our communities.
CITY works to support, nurture, and provide oppportunities to at-risk youth by utilizing individualized healing and prevention programs, self-empowerment, and community transformation. For more information on CITY's approach and new location, click here.
What would happen if UCAN didn’t exist?
If there were no UCAN, critical services for state wards and their families would be severely reduced or eliminated completely. For example, UCAN’s Teen Parenting Service Network currently provides oversight for all pregnant or parenting teen wards in Illinois – no one else has the infrastructure to do this work. UCAN runs the largest foster care program in Lake and McHenry counties. We’ve also just launched the first host home program for LGBTQ homeless youth in Illinois, and are Illinois’ licensed providers of proven national programs such as Parents Anonymous® and TransParenting®.
How long has UCAN been operating?
UCAN was founded in 1869, and has continually evolved from that time to meet the changing needs of our clients. In 2004, UCAN merged with Family Care of Illinois, which was started in 1958. Our President & CEO, Tom Vanden Berk, has been leading UCAN since 1987.
How is UCAN funded?
UCAN is primarily funded by the government – 91% of our income is from government grants and contracts. 8% of our funding is private revenue (e.g. individuals, corporations, foundations). 1% of our revenue is from investment income, and <1% is from other sources. For UCAN’s 2009 financial highlights, please click here to see our annual report.
Where does UCAN operate?
UCAN’s primary operations are in Cook, Lake and McHenry counties. However, our Teen Parenting Service Network works with pregnant and parenting teen wards across the entire state of Illinois. For a list of our office locations, please click here.
How can I support UCAN?
There are many ways to support UCAN! Every donation helps, regardless of size. You can also volunteer with us or mentor some of our youth. Speaking to legislators on our behalf is always appreciated, and we ask that you continue to spread the word about the excellent work we do every day. For more information on ways to contribute, click here.
How do I apply for a job?
For a list of open positions, please click here.
How do I contact UCAN?
For contact information, please click here.