Little Friends, Inc.

aka Little Friends, Inc.   |   Warrenville, IL   |  www.littlefriendsinc.org

Mission

It is the mission of Little Friends to empower children and adults with special challenges to live, learn, work and participate in the community. Since 1965, Little Friends has been dedicated to serving people with disabilities in our community. We are a local organization--based in Naperville, Illinois and serving families from throughout eight counties in the western suburbs. But our influence extends far beyond the Chicago area. More than 50 school districts turn to us for assistance with some of their most challenging students. Families from all over Illinois attend our training for parents of children with autism. National conferences feature our staff as speakers

Ruling year info

1971

President & CEO

Mr. Mikel Briggs

Main address

27555 Diehl Rd.

Warrenville, IL 60555 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

36-2698644

NTEE code info

Developmentally Disabled Services/Centers (P82)

Autism (G84)

Vocational Rehabilitation (includes Job Training and Employment for Disabled and Elderly) (J30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

According to the Pediatric Journal of the American Medical Association, one in fifty nine children nationwide is diagnosed with some degree of autism. While symptoms range from mild to severe, Autism Spectrum Disorder has become one of the leading childhood development disorders in the United States, affecting approximately 3.5 million Americans. The reality is that the need for services for children and adults with autism or other developmental disabilities is astounding, and the current supply of these services outstrips the demand. In response to this demand, Little Friends recently moved to larger, newer facilities equipped a larger number of classrooms for students with special needs ages three to 22. These classrooms include state of the art technologies and newer amenities that truly enhance classroom instruction. The facilities also allow for the expansion of diagnostic evaluations for children who might be on the autism spectrum.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Little Friends

Little Friends operates 10 programs, including early intervention for infants and toddlers up to 3 years of age; alternative schools for students whose needs cannot be met by their public school district; and support for the families of children with disabilities. A group home for children with autism also provides intensive training for both the child and their parents, for a period of approximately 2 years.

For adults with disabilities, we offer job training at Spectrum Vocational, or by helping people find jobs at businesses throughout our community. The Residential Services program allows adults with disabilities to live in their own homes scattered throughout the community, with support based on their individual needs.

Little Friends has special expertise in serving children with autism. In addition to the services provided in our own programs, the Little Friends Center for Autism provides training and consultation to families as well as professionals. In-depth evaluations are also available in order to determine if a child has autism or other pervasive developmental disorders.

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities
People with disabilities

Adult day service program providing vocational training for teens and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Population(s) Served
Adults
People with disabilities

Helps adults with autism and other developmental disabilities live in apartments, condominiums and single-family homes as independent members of their community. Intermittent or 24-hour support is provided

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Adults

A therapeutic day school program serving children ages 4-21. Approximately 95% of students have a primary diagnosis on the autism spectrum. Small class sizes, high staff to student ratio, cutting edge therapies.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People with disabilities

Little Friends Center for Autism (LFCA) strives to provide a fulfilling life for your child. We have groundbreaking treatment programs and nationally respected staff to empower our clients for life. Treatment starts at diagnosis—when we create a comprehensive strategy for your child—and continues with a plan tailored to their strengths and needs, empowering your child to develop the skills necessary to flourish in their community.

Little Friends Center for Autism is located in Naperville, Illinois, 30 miles west of Chicago. In addition to our nationally recognized programs and services, we offer a wide range of trainings for teachers, parents, and others in the community.

As a leading authority in the field of autism, Little Friends Center for Autism provides the most dynamic and cutting edge therapies and resources for children living with an autism diagnosis, and their families, each and every day.

Our dedicated staff has been specializing in autism since 1982. Today, Little Friends Center for Autism is nationally recognized as a comprehensive, one-stop resource for autism, providing innovative diagnostic evaluations, speech therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), consultation services for parents and professionals, social skills groups, occupational therapy, counseling and training. Our evaluations and services rank among the best in the country.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People with intellectual disabilities

Bridge High School was established more than 30 years ago in Downers Grove, Illinois, specializing in providing quality educational services for secondary level students with pervasive disabilities, primarily autism. This program provides an alternative, functional, community-based curriculum to students who typically have not had success in their home schools.

Bridge High School staff work closely with students and parents to assist in developing viable plans to facilitate successful transition to adulthood. The approach is not “one size fits all,” but is an individualized and exploratory approach. This is true for higher functioning individuals who are exploring work interests and aptitudes, as well as for students who require a more individualized approach to ensure the acquisition and development of adaptive behaviors.

Bridge curriculum assures learning across these key domains:

Functionally oriented academic classes provide for instruction and completion of courses, aligned with common core learning standards for Illinois and in accordance with home school requirements, for earning a high school diploma.

Regularly scheduled community instruction ensures the application of school learning to real world settings such as retail stores, banks, libraries, and the YMCA.

Participation in life skills classes teaches consumer, homemaking, household management, personal maintenance, and leisure skills.

Vocational classes instill and develop basic work sensibilities and behaviors (soft skills) crucial for successful community employment, through daily paid work activities in school.

Community vocational activities, including on the job evaluations, assure individualized exploration of work aptitudes and preferences, along with opportunities for basic work experience at real places of business.

Social-emotional learning classes and related activities help students increase self- awareness, social problem solving abilities, emotional self-regulation, and other social competencies necessary for successful relationships.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
People with disabilities

Mansion High School’s mission is to provide students with a therapeutic environment that supports students’ mental health to empower personal and academic growth. Our aim is to lessen the obstacles that arise from mental health needs in order for our students to function in an academic environment. The environment at Mansion High School is small with a maximum enrollment of 20 students which allows for a small staff to student ratio; the program is designed for students that have difficulties functioning in larger school environments. Our smaller, supportive classroom environments are an important piece of our academic programming as it allows staff to address the individual needs of all students as outlined in their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Mansion understands that for some students being in their home high school environment may not be the best option for them to succeed. Students that attend Mansion High School typically have disabilities that include, but are not limited to: high-anxiety, depression, mood disregulation and other mental health related disorders.

Students engage in high school level coursework, aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards, where they have the opportunity to earn credits toward their home high school’s graduation requirements. Teachers utilize multiple modes of instruction within the classroom including blended learning, allowing for lessons to meet each student’s individual needs. Through utilizing multi-modal approaches, students are able to experience academic achievements and acquire the skills necessary to be successful in their future

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Little Friends’ Respite Program offers caregivers time for rest and relief from challenges associated with raising a child with special needs. Our program offers multi-week sessions for children with special needs and their siblings featuring indoor and outdoor activities and socialization opportunities.

Each session is hosted by a lead instructor, paid staff members, Certified Nursing Assistant and community volunteers. All participants are guided to engage in structured activities, art projects, gro

Population(s) Served
Caregivers
People with disabilities

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) developed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Men and boys, People with disabilities

Related Program

Krejci Academy

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Each student has an IEP developed to address their specific needs across a variety of domains including academics, communication, sensory regulation, social skills and social emotional needs.

Number of educators who have opportunities to attend programs offered by professional organizations

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Men and boys, People with disabilities

Related Program

Krejci Academy

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Academic and therapeutic staff are encouraged to increase professional knowledge in their areas of specialization. The goal is to increase knowledge and ability to apply best practice strategies.

Number of students enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Men and boys, People with disabilities

Related Program

Krejci Academy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Krejci Academy serves students ages 3 - 21 with Autism, social emotional, and other developmental disabilities.

Number of student suspensions

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Men and boys, People with disabilities

Related Program

Krejci Academy

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Decreasing

Context Notes

Krejci Academy is committed to positive and proactive behavior strategies. Students are encouraged to work through behavior issues in the moment with the support of their teacher or therapist.

Number of parents/guardians engaged in student activities

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls, Men and boys, People with disabilities

Related Program

Krejci Academy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Parents are valued members of each child's team. They are encouraged to give input into IEPs and communicate with classroom and therapeutic staff to engage in carryover activities.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Little Friends

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

People can become involved as resource guides for our respite programs, as educational interns with one of our three schools or adult IDD programs, as well as volunteers at our resale shop.

Number of website pageviews

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Little Friends

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Little Friends completed a new look and design for the website in 2019 and that led to a substantially larger viewing audience.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Much of what we would like to accomplish for our FY21 will be in response to the realities associated with COVID-19. Our three schools will apply e-learning techniques to enable children and teachers to work on educational plans remotely. Our Spectrum Vocational Services program area will re-open in September 2021. Those facilities have been closed to the public since Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a Shelter-in-Place moratorium that started in March 2020. The agency's respite program was effectively shuttered in early-March with plans to re-open later this fall.

The Little Friends Center for Autism has adopted Telehealth strategies that enable critical work with children on the autism spectrum to receive diagnostic evaluations, therapy, and parent education from licensed clinical professionals. The agency's Community Living Services staff will continue to provide intermittent to 24/7 care to more than 100 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who reside in one of our 38 homes that we maintain.

Little Friends continues to be in the quiet phase of a capital campaign and any financial successes we are able to achieve for FY21 represent a third goal for the agency. Many of the conversations underway with existing and new donors will be conducted remotely in response to social distancing guidelines as set forth by the state of Illinois. The agency's advancement team has also elected to host all fundraising events as virtual activities for the rest of the calendar year. The staff has also elevated the number of grant proposals issued to local, regional and national foundations in a targeted effort to create a more diverse funding portfolio that will support the agency's annual fundraising needs.

The key strategy for helping the agency move from its existing space to our newer facilities is the completed sale of our existing property and that should be completed in October 2020. Plans to move into the new building are to occur in January 2021 to accommodate the start of the second semester for our three schools. Build-out for the new space is slated to begin in October.

To accommodate goals related to COVID-19, senior leadership conducted virtual meetings every day beginning in mid-March 2020 and those meetings evolved into bi-weekly activities starting in June. From Day One, when agency officials were advised to work from home, our agency's CEO has emphasized the importance of timely communications and responsive decision-making as drivers for how the agency most proactively addresses the welfare of those we care for, their families, and our staff who work on the front-lines providing the supports necessary to insure the safety of everybody involved. Looking ahead, the senior leadership team will participate in a two-day, organizational planning retreat to formalize strategies that will be used to address agency goals, organizational outcomes, and financial targets for the coming year.

Little Friends identified an executive leadership team of volunteers to work with the advancement team to formalize plans around the agency's first-ever capital campaign. The team will formalize a larger network of committee members and community leaders, starting this fall and as plans for the agency transition into the newer facilities. An important element associated with the capital campaign will be to tie into the facility move to generate more awareness and build momentum at the start of the new calendar year in 2021.

Little Friends is capable in effectively addressing the goals and strategies for the agency because of the longevity of the senior leadership. Four of the nine members of the CEO's cabinet have been with the agency for more than 30 years apiece. Two cabinet members have been with the organization for 20 or more years, and only two of the senior leadership team have been with the agency for less than three years. Prior to his involvement with Little Friends, the CEO was a the CEO of two different (and successful) manufacturing businesses for more than 30 years.

Our ability to address our organizational goals for the year relies heavily on effective communication. The CEO meets with his direct reports every other week and the larger senior leadership team meets twice a month to review progress made on goals we have established for the year. The feedback captured from these meetings is shared at the departmental level so plans can effectively be launched and executed at every level of the agency.

The Board of Directors maintains an active role in governing the agency by providing critical leadership and setting policy with the CEO. The board plays a key role in stewarding funds from the community and by leveraging their contacts to strengthen the agency's profile throughout the region. This group of volunteer leaders are critical in helping the agency navigate into the new space and they will be instrumental in helping the organization achieve success with their capital campaign.

Little Friends completed fiscal year 2020 at the end of June. Highlights for the FY20 year included year two (of three) of the continued accreditation by the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL). CQL is the commonly identified as a leader for human services organizations and systems in improving the quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through offering resources that include year-round training, consultation, certification and research.

Little Friends's Krejci Academy was named a School of Excellence in 2020 by the National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) for the second year in a row. There are only seven private schools in the state of Illinois that carry this distinction and fewer than 85 schools listed nationwide. To capture this award two years in a row is a major accomplishment for the agency.

The Advancement department set new records in funds raised annually. This accomplishment was especially critical to achieve as funding levels dropped substantially during the final quarter of the fiscal year as a result of the impact of the Coronavirus. The agency's signature annual fundraiser was able to take place in early-March as the World Health Organization officially announced COVID-19 as a pandemic only four days later.

Looking ahead (a.k.a. what's next), the agency will continue to actively monitor the health and welfare of the children and adults we serve as that is the mission work we perform every day. Of the more than 900 children and adults who receive some type of care by our agency, there has not been a single reported incident in which someone has contracted the virus. This is especially good news each of these individuals we care for are all identified as high-risk.

Plans continue to be underway to successfully transition the agency's headquarters to a newer facility with the targeted move-in date to be January 2021. Schools will start at the beginning of September with remote learning that will take place between students and teachers. Our community day program that provides vocational opportunities, supported employment, and networking experiences for more than 180 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities will re-open later this fall. The agency will host its first-ever, all-virtual activity Step Up for Little Friends, which is a 5K/Walk that will take place in late September. The Little Friends Center for Autism will continue to apply therapies on a limited basis and the agency's respite program is slated to re-open in September.

Financials

Little Friends, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Little Friends, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 2/25/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Tom Connors

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 09/09/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Decline to state
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/04/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.