Works to prevent and mitigate child health risks associated with house insecurity with a specific focus on children ages 0 to 6 and pregnant persons.

With the generous support of Otho S. A. Sprague Memorial Institute 

First Steps in the News

Closing the affordable housing gap

Interview by WBEZ Chicago in March 2023 

Hear from ICAAP's Housing Committee Chair, Dr. Nancy Heil, ICAAP community expert, Amanda Henley, and Housing Action Illinois Policy Director, Bob Palmer, on how a lack of affordable housing can put a family's health at risk and how organizations and lawmakers are working to close the gap.

Affordable housing is a crucial part of our nation's infrastructure

Posted by Crain's Chicago Business in July 2021

Learn how by providing housing assistance, we can reduce poverty, increase stability for vulnerable households, and help avert homelessness.

Father and daughter (18 months) walking up steps to house

2021 Illinois Kids Count

First Steps pediatrician presents on poverty and housing.

The First Steps Initiative

  • Fostering partnerships through the Collaborative on Child Homelessness - Illinois (COCHI).
  • Enhancing systems of care and linkages between pediatric primary care, early childhood, and housing providers.
  • Making recommendations on what data should be collected and tracked to better understand how homelessness and housing instability affect children and pregnant persons.
  • Improving the quality of care through health care and housing cross-sector education.
  • Establishing a model of care for pediatric patients facing housing insecurity.
  • Assuring that child health risks and health risks to pregnant persons are reflected in the prioritization of housing.
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Physician Resources on Child Health and Housing

Webinar: A Primary Care Primer on Housing Insecurity in Children

A First Steps: Improving Child Health and Housing webinar crafted by a group of experts from across the housing and health care sectors. This webinar allows participants to understand the definitions and prevalence of homeless and housing insecurity in Chicago, learn how to sensitively address homelessness in patients, and become familiar with resources available for children and families experiencing homelessness.

To obtain CME credits for the Primary Care Primer on Housing Insecurity in Children, take the Housing module via ICAAP's Learning Platform be sure to create an account first.

Model of Care

Model of Care for Pediatric Patients Facing Housing Insecurity and Homelessness

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Assessment of Welcoming Practices for Pediatric Patients Facing Housing Insecurity and Homelessness

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Model of Care Bookmark

The bookmark provides physicians 5 Steps to care for children experiencing housing insecurity.

  1. Information on Housing Insecurity
  2. Golden Rule
  3. Schedule Adaptation
  4. Comprehensive Visits
  5. Resources

To download the bookmark, click here.

Children Experiencing Housing Insecurity Model of Care

Chicago/Cook County Housing Referral Tool for Physicians

Housing is a Human Right


The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation, and medical services.

Principle 4 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child



Fact: Infants born to persons experiencing homelessness are more likely to be born prematurely and with low birth weights, to require a ventilator upon birth, and to require admission to an intensive care unit than those born to persons who are stably housed.

Fact: A pregnant person who lives in shelters are less likely to receive well care in ambulatory settings and are about 50% more likely to use the emergency department for their care.

Housing Insecurity Facts

Fact: The majority of family members facing insecurity are children and over half of them are under 6 years old.

Fact: Approximately 80% of Chicago residents facing housing insecurity are Black.