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  Foster Parent Law  

2004 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan Honors

Family foster care is an essential service for children and their families who have been separated due to child abuse, neglect, or dependency. Recognizing that foster parents are an essential part of and fulfill an integral role on the child welfare team, the Illinois General Assembly determined that there was a need to establish public policy regarding the rights and the responsibilities of foster parents. This policy is known as the Foster Parent Law. The law states that each DCFS region and every agency providing foster care by contract with DCFS is required to develop an annual plan to implement the law. The Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council is responsible for ensuring that the plans are submitted and scored each year. Plans must score a minimum of 75 out of 104 points to be accepted by the Council.

This year, 77 agencies and six DCFS regions submitted implementation plans. The five agencies submitting the plans with the highest scores were honored at the Statewide Foster Care Advisory Couuncil meeting held July 30th in Chicago. The following Executive Summaries identify key points regarding each of the top five agencies' implementation plans.

Executive Summaries

Casa Central
There are several key characteristics that make the Casa Central implementation plan a success. The foster care program places a heavy emphasis on treating all team members with dignity and respect, striving to reach this goal by providing team members ample opportunities for involvement and input. Providing accurate, consistent and timely information to our foster families has also been imperative. Foster families receive case information during monthly home visits via their notification of scheduled meetings form, which includes court dates, court results, Administrative Case Review meetings, staffings and an opportunity to provide input. All team members are also actively encouraged to assist with recruitment activities/efforts. Team members are asked to assist with a range of tasks from passing out flyers to local businesses, neighborhoods or friends to creating a foster care video, conducting radio/TV interviews or writing articles for our newsletters. These experiences heighten the team's understanding that everyone has a role in foster care and developing safe homes.

Catholic Charities of Chicago
The key characteristic of the Catholic Charities Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan is mutual respect for the fostering team as shown by the sharing of information between staff and foster parents, providing supports for foster parents and continued staff and foster parent training. Catholic Charities of Chicago appreciates the strengths of its foster families. Through quality communication between staff and caregiver, and dedication to identifying and serving children's needs, Catholic Charities Foster Care Services staff and foster parents work together in a team effort. A solid knowledge base for decision-making is a key component of quality services. Information on policy changes, training for skill building, and opportunities for social outlets are provided through presentations, in written articles and video materials and through the bimonthly newsletter.

Catholic Charities of Rockford
Catholic Charities promotes dignity and respect of our foster children and their families by engaging in discussions with foster parents about the importance of making only positive comments about birth families.The agency also monitors the foster parents when the monthly and/or bimonthly home visits occur and includes a family-to-family training in its monthly in-service training program. A priority of our agency is to promote equity between foster parents' biological children and their foster children, i.e. Mutual Rights Form. Foster parents are notified and encouraged to attend all meetings for children in their care, and they are encouraged to give input into case planning. Their input is given full consideration when creating the child's service plan. Foster parents are also invited to attend court hearings. Caseworkers inform foster parents of all legal orders and court decisions immediately. Catholic Charities also meets with foster parents periodically in order to gather input to improve our program, as well as for Quality Assurance purposes. Catholic Charities staff and foster parents annnually collaborate on the Implementation Plan in order to provide strategies for improvement.

Evangelical Child and Family
Although the Foster Care Program's licensing team takes the lead, ECFA's Implementation Plan reflects the ongoing review of services of three programs that license homes (Foster Care, Adoption, and Pregnancy Support Services). The reviewers are a mix of staff, interns and foster families. The Implementation Plan also involves members of ECFA's Board of Directors, Pride Trainers and leaders of support groups. Many of the services mentioned in the Plan have their origin as suggestions from frontline staff and/or foster parents themselves. The agency believes that by developing an ongoing consensus of participation and a spirit of inclusiveness, they can build strength into their plan.

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois
The Lutheran Social Services of Illinois' (LSSI) 2004 Foster Parent Implementation Plan sets forth LSSI's vision for a continued partnership with foster parents. Foster parents are seen as integral to LSSI's ability to provide quality services to children in need. Without foster parents, LSSI would be unable to fulfill its mission to bring "healing, wholeness and justice" to children and families in Illinois. A primary theme of LSSI's 2004 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan is respectful interaction with foster parents at all times. LSSI's 2004 plan notes that particular emphasis on respectful interaction is needed during times of problem resolution, such as during licensing investigations, placement disruptions and abuse/neglect investigations. New to LSSI's 2004 plan is the requirement that program sites submit quarterly reports to LSSI's management team regarding their efforts at implementing the 2004 Plan. This is designed to keep LSSI's plan fresh and in front of staff throughout the year.

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