On May 21, 2010 the Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council (Council) sponsored its annual awards and recognition ceremony for four foster care agencies; three whose 2010 Foster Parent Law implementation plans excel in the area of dignity and respect, and one in the area of user-friendliness/organization. Implementation plans are required by the Foster Parent Law, which is described below.
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 official public policy regarding the rights and the responsibilities of foster parents. This policy is known as the Foster Parent Law. This law requires that each DCFS region and every private agency providing foster care by contract with DCFS develop an annual plan to implement the Law. The 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.
The four foster care agencies selected by the Council for recognition this year have submitted the following executive summaries describing the highlights of their 2010 implementation plans:
Centers for New Horizons
Founded in 1971, Centers for New Horizons (‘Centers’) mission is “To develop the capacities of children, youth, adults, and families to become self-reliant, to improve the quality of their lives, and to participate in building their community.” Though primarily housed in Bronzeville, home of nearly 100,000 Chicago residents, Centers achieves its mission of building self-reliance by providing programs across the city and county of Cook that educate children, strengthen families and build communities. Annually, we serve over 4,000 adults and children in programs providing: Foster Care, Early Childhood Learning Centers, In-Home Day Care Provider Services, Youth Development, Counseling, Elder Services, Workforce Development & Community Building.
In keeping with the agency philosophy of Building Communities by Strengthening Families, our Foster Parent Implementation Plan focuses on a key foundational pillar - “Parents as Partners.” Foster parents are vital and respected members of our child welfare team. As such, every attempt to include them in our daily work, as well as to listen and communicate, is made by all team members. This communication is the foundation for our ongoing implementation plan which includes:
- An active Foster Parent Advisory Board
- A Foster Parent “Buddy” System that allows new foster parents to be mentored by veteran foster parents
- Meetings and staffings are held during a variety of weekday, evening and Saturday hours to accommodate a goal of 100% participation from the foster care team
- A clothing closet
- Monthly trainings include childcare and catered meals
- The development of a personal mission statement by the foster parents that is supported by the agency.
- A computer lab available for foster parent use in addition to online training
Children’s Home + Aid
Children’s Home + Aid is a statewide agency with almost 700 foster parents who provide foster care services in four geographical regions. The agency’s size and structure presents a challenge in ensuring that each goal is implemented in every region. A statewide task force, which includes Licensing and Foster Care staff from each region, facilitated by a Quality Improvement Associate, convenes telephone meetings on a regular basis to discuss progress toward established goals and to brainstorm on ways to meet goals that have not yet been met. Input from foster parents varies from region to region; however, each region has an advisory council consisting of foster parents and/or including foster parents. The task force seeks input from each of the councils on how the agency could be of more assistance in helping foster parents fulfill their rights and responsibilities as well as through face to face interaction with foster parents at various meetings across the state. The 2010 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan includes revisions intended to enhance readability and to make the plan more user friendly. These revisions include: the addition of a table of contents that identifies the subject matter of each right and responsibility; title of the subject matter was added as a header to each right and responsibility in the body of the plan; and, additions/changes were made in certain rights and responsibilities to aid in clarification of the plan.
The Lawrence Hall Youth Services (LHYS) Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan has been redeveloped in recent years to improve readability, organization, and overall user-friendliness. In preparation for 2010, Foster Parents were asked to identify sections for further development and enhancement specific to Dignity, Respect, and Consideration. The Plan has been organized to include a glossary of terms, an index, and relevant telephone numbers to assist foster parents with locating and availing themselves to resources and information they may be seeking. Also, the grievance form has been included to accompany the grievance procedure.
Universal Family Connection, Inc.
The Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan completed by Universal Family Connection, Inc. is the product of a collaborative effort between foster parents and UFC staff. Foster parents are an integral part of our agency. Our program could not exist without the support provided by our foster parents.
Universal Family Connection, Inc. looks to foster parents as valuable assets and professional team members. Their input with the annual Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan is crucial.
Universal Family Connection, Inc. is committed to ensuring that all foster parents are afforded all dignity, respect and consideration that are afforded to any team member. This is evidenced in our agency’s Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan for 2010.