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Family Options

The Family Options Project offers legal and social work services to families in Chicago’s Cook County area when at least one parent is HIV-positive.  It is the program’s goal to help families make future care and custody choices for their children.  Services are provided free of charge to families.


We empower families to see the choices available to them and to plan for the future.

Support for Parents

Every parent thinks about the future for his or her child.  Parents hope to guide their children but no one can predict when a medical emergency may occur.  If your family is affected by HIV/AIDS – or any critical illness – picturing your family’s future may feel overwhelming.

Future care and custody planning can give families a sense of stability.  Illinois law provides several options for both short-term and long-term guardianship plans for your children that can be implemented whenever a family decides.  We work with HIV-positive parents when they are feeling well so that in the event they are unable to care for their children, a plan will be in place and the family’s wishes will be followed.  We help families to plan for future medical decisions, finances, and the care of their children.

Family Options understands that these are difficult decisions and encourages families to take their time in order to form a plan that feels right and meets their individual needs.  In order to facilitate a successful planning process, FCAN’s Family Options’ team provides in-home legal and social work services to families in Cook County.

In addition to family planning, Family Options offers the following services:
  • Individual Counseling
  • Family Meetings
  • Education about HIV/AIDS
  • Parenting Education and Support
  • Opportunities for recreation and respite
  • Legacy work
  • Peer outreach & support
  • Counseling regarding discrimination and disclosure

Support for New Caregivers

Family Options also focuses on supporting new caregivers.  In the event of a parent’s death, permanency planning provides support and referrals for new caregivers and eases a child’s transition into a new family setting. 

Legal services for new caregivers include:
  • Helping a standby guardian to obtain permanent guardianship of a child after a parent has passed away or is no longer able to care for the child.
  • Helping new caregivers to access public benefits on behalf of the child.
  • Assisting caregivers to develop their own future care and custody plans for the children in their care.

Social Support for Parents and New Caregivers

Program staff members facilitate activities for families in the program so that caregivers can connect with other individuals undergoing similar circumstances.  Recent events include a Back-to-School Day, a day at Brookfield Zoo, and a Mother’s Day outing.