Mental Health

ILCHF funds children’s mental health projects that support children’s mental health through prevention, early intervention, treatment and system building work.

Mental Health Philosophy:

Children’s mental health is as critical as their physical health in achieving overall wellbeing. Healthy social and emotional development is a necessary underpinning for learning, school success, relationship development and positive interactions with their environment. Children’s mental health is built on a foundation that depends on their family, community, and child-serving system’s ability to support them.

Mental Health Initiatives

The Children’s Mental Health Initiative (CMHI 1.0)

In 2009, the ILCHF Board of Directors committed to a focus of building the Illinois mental health system’s capacity to provide effective and integrated services to children, at the earliest stages of distress. CMHI planning and implementation grants were awarded to four communities across Illinois. The projects focused on implementing mental health screening in school and primary care settings, and well as evidence based clinical interventions and general development of child serving systems of care. Evaluation findings indicate that the communities have largely been able to sustain the services that were initiated with ILCHF grant funding. Mental health services are more effective than those previously available in the community, and care is both more coordinated and accessible. CMHI 1.0 is an eight-year initiative, 2010 – 2018 representing a total investment by ILCHF of more than $12 million.

Children receiving mental health screening in
schools or primary care settings in 2016

Healthy Minds, Healthy Children, Healthy Chicago (H3)

The H3 project focuses on the integration of behavioral health services in the primary care setting within two Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in the City of Chicago. One site is located on the Southside of Chicago in the Englewood community and the other is on the Westside of Chicago in the West Town community. Funding began in October of 2013 and will conclude in December of 2018. ILCHF will invest up to two million dollars in each community over approximately five years. H3 services focus on mental health screening, early and brief mental health interventions and linkage to longer-term mental health care, as well as community-based resources. H3 is a five-year initiative, 2013-2018 representing a total investment by ILC HF of approximately $5 million.

Children receiving mental health screening in
schools or primary care settings in 2016

Children’s Mental Health Access Expansion Grants 

The CMAG grants focus on increasing child and family access to mental health supports by building local systems to provide more, and more effective mental health care. Projects build upon the partnership of local child serving systems to work together to implement integrated services within settings that children and families are most comfortable. These projects are very diverse in scope and strategy as a response to the unique needs and resources available in each community. Data is being collected to determine the scope of the impact of the CMAG projects in expanding access to effective care. CMAG is a 2-year initiative, January 2017 – December 2018.



Lessons Learned with Our Grantees

ILCHF partners with grantees to learn the most effective ways to support children’s mental health in each unique community. ILCHF is committed to being a learning organization and to supporting our grantees in contributing to the knowledge base of children’s mental health.

Length of commitment

Length of Commitment = The ambition and the scope of a project to introduce change in a system must be matched by the length of the grant funding commitment.

Parent & Family Support

Current science concludes that children do best when they have well-functioning families, and offers significant guidance about what the most effective parenting consists of. ILCHF is committed to supporting projects that empower parents and families to give children the greatest chance to thrive.

Evidence based workforce

Evidence based work force = The state of the science in clinical mental health interventions for children is evolving rapidly. Yet, many children and families are not receiving services reflective of this current evidence base, due to gaps in the workforce. ILCHF is committed (no further changes)

System Integration

Integrating mental health care into typical community based settings such as homes, primary healthcare, schools and recreation facilities improves a child and families’ ability to access services. ILCHF is committed to continuing to support the integration of effective mental health services into community based settings beyond the mental health clinic.

Outcome Measurement & Evaluation

Moving beyond accumulating service and demographic data to look at impact on actual child and family functioning gives a more precise picture of the impact of ILCHF grantmaking. ILCHF is committed to supporting this level of outcome measurement in the projects it funds, which will build quality improvement capacity in the local systems and the children’s mental health field at large.

Open RFPs

Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation Announces New Health Equity Grant Program

(Oak Brook, IL) – June 28, 2021 – Today, the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation (ILCHF) and Delta Dental Foundation of Illinois (DDILF) announce the creation of new health equity grant program to assist organizations working to improve the oral and overall health of children impacted by poverty. Both foundations are contributing approximately $2 million dollars each in order to support the new initiative. In total, grant allocations of up to $200,000 will be awarded to each organization and must be used within two years (up to $100,000 per year). Eligible organizations must work in Illinois communities where children may not be able to access quality, comprehensive oral health services as a result of systemic health and social inequities. 
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News & Publications

Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation Announces Two School/Mental Health COVID-19 Funding Initiatives

(Oak Brook, IL) – June 1, 2021 – Nearly a year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic began significantly impairing the mental health of children and those that care for them, the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation (ILCHF) announces two new initiatives to allocate $8.4 million of its 2021 and 2022 COVID-19 Recovery Funds to children’s mental health. The allocation, issued through two geographic-specific RFPs, one focused on 14 specific zip codes in Chicago, and the other focused on 14
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Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation Commits Additional $4.25 Million to Improve Children’s Mental Health

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2020 Media Contact: DeRondal Bevly Email:  Program Contact: Amy Starin Email:   Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation Invests $4.25 Million in Children’s Mental Health Five Communities to Build Mental Health Systems of Care (Oak Brook, IL) – December 18, 2020 – Building upon two successful cycles of its Children’s Mental Health Initiatives (CMHI 1.0 and CMHI 2.0), the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation (ILCHF) announces a new round of nearly $4.25 million dollars to five organizations
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Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation Announces New Statewide Mental Health Investments

For Immediate Release: October 28, 2020 Media Contact: DeRondal Bevly Email:  Program Contact: Amy Starin Email:   Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation Announces New Statewide Mental Health Investments New Round of Grantmaking Provides $2.5 Million in Funding for 23 SASS Providers (Oak Brook, IL) – October 28, 2020 – COVID-19 has increased mental health needs for children and families across the State. Simultaneously, the pandemic has damaged mental health providers, including significant damage to Screening, Assessment, and Support Services (SASS)
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ILCHF is helping us to comprehensively evaluate the program that we have implemented to make sure that it is replicable and sustainable across many organizations.
Dana Kelly, Director of Development & Strategy, Erie Family Health Care

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