About the Program
Chicago Survivors (CS) offers crime victim and support services to surviving family members of Chicago homicide victims. Our services are free, voluntary and open to all. Our services are survivor-shaped, trauma-informed, family-centered and delivered primarily in survivors’ homes. Our staff includes bilingual Spanish/English speakers, and all staff can access real-time translation services in other languages.
Chicago Survivors also works to reform and enhance systems that families encounter in the aftermath of homicide. Chicago Survivors trains law enforcement officers, prosecutors, Medical Examiner’s Office personnel, hospital staff and others, and advocates for victim-centered and trauma-informed systems change.
Chicago Survivors offers five linked programs:
1. Immediate CRISIS RESPONSE
(Usually 2-5 days)
Crisis Response services are available to every family in the aftermath of homicide in Chicago. Chicago Survivors Crisis Responders are dispatched to the crime scene or hospital within two to four hours of the homicide to provide support to the victim’s family and to protect their rights as crime victims. Crisis Responders attend to the immediate emotional and practical needs of the family. They liaise with law enforcement, assist in accessing crime scene clean up, arrange for emergency guardianship, provide accompaniment to the Medical Examiner’s Office, provide information and rights assistance in funeral arrangements, organize a vigil and/or a flier distribution, engage in interactive safety planning, and address any other emerging urgent needs. At the conclusion of the Crisis Response service phase, families who live in or within 25 miles of Chicago, or who are willing to travel to Chicago, are invited to receive CS Family Support Services.
2. Proactive in-home FAMILY SUPPORT and Case Management
Families who sign up for additional free services will be assigned a Family Support Specialist and will receive up to six months of family support and case management services. Family Support Specialists assess the needs and strengths of families following the crime and develop a Service Plan in consultation with the householder(s), including supportive counseling, application for Crime Victims Compensation Funds, and assistance with ongoing practical needs. Family Support Specialists are active listeners and problem solvers who draw upon a full range of partnerships and referral relationships to serve each family individually. Family Support Specialists continue to liaison with detectives and advocate on behalf of families during a homicide investigation.
Families with minor children in the home may also work with Chicago Survivors Youth Program.
Families who wish to meet with their Family Support Specialist outside the home or at our offices are welcome to do so.
3. YOUTH PROGRAM: Triage, Counseling and Referral for Children and Youth, 0-17 yrs.
Children and youth have special needs following their exposure to violent loss relative to their age, developmental level and the type of exposure. Chicago Survivors’ licensed Youth Clinical Counselors are specifically trained to triage and fast-track referral of children who are severely traumatized, and to support children, teens and parents as they process their experience. Youth Clinical Counselors provide free supportive counseling for children 7-17 years old, utilizing Healing Arts Kits to encourage self-expression and psycho-education, and provide facilitated referrals for children who are younger. When children and teens transition back to school, Youth Clinical Counselors work directly with the parent or guardian, teachers and administrators so that they all have what they need for a successful re-engagement with school.
4. COMMUNITY OF SURVIVORS
Before the six months of case management concludes, families are invited to participate in Chicago Survivors Community of Survivors, led by our Survivor Community Manager. Family members engage in peer-to-peer support through on-going Support Groups, Workshops, Family Dinners, Memorial Events and Advocacy Opportunities (see “Upcoming Events”).
5. Court-based CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADVOCACY and Unsolved Case Meetings
Chicago Survivors’ Criminal Justice Advocate provides comprehensive support throughout the court process for the victim’s family when an alleged offender is charged in a homicide, including court accompaniment and interpretation, interactive safety assessment and planning when necessary, and protection of crime victim rights in the courtroom.
When a homicide case is unsolved for nine months or more, a family is encouraged to sign up for a Survivor Family Unsolved Case Meeting in which two family members may question command-level law enforcement about how or why the case remains unsolved. These meetings are run by the family and facilitated by our Criminal Justice Advocate. Unsolved Case Meetings may clarify misunderstandings, explain unmet legal requirements, or provide new information that reinvigorates investigations.