April 1, 2005- First Lady Patti Blagojevich today kicked off April as
Child Abuse Prevention Month by highlighting the success of programs and
services that have reduced child abuse and neglect in Illinois.
the "Teaming up to Keep Kids
Safe at Home" event serves
to encourage people across the country to join forces to raise awareness
of the terrible tragedy of child abuse and to promote specific ways the
public can help to prevent these occurrences in their communities. During
ceremonies in Chicago, Mrs. Blagojevich emphasized the importance of increasing
awareness of child abuse prevention, and recognized award-winning local
initiatives. The First Lady also encouraged the child welfare community
to continue to increase public understanding of efforts to provide services
designed to prevent child abuse and neglect.
is necessary that we take this message of prevention into the community,"
stated Mrs. Blagojevich. "Our priority is to empower families with
the information and services that will allow them to create safer homes
and communities for children. Our emphasis needs to be on prevention programs
that work to connect families to needed resources, to ensure healthy children,
and to predict and address abusive situations before they happen. The
public is aware of the prevalence and seriousness of child abuse, but
we must continue to deepen people's understanding of the problem and its
from the Department of Children and Family Services show that there are
significantly fewer reports of child abuse and neglect in Illinois than
in past years. Since 1997, the number of reports investigated for abuse
or neglect declined 12.8 percent, the number of child reports with indicated
victims of child abuse or neglect decreased by 34.5 percent, and the number
of children taken into protective custody decreased by 28 percent.
ability to provide services for children in its care has been significantly
improved by reforms implemented in the last two years. The First Lady
served on the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Task Force,
where she helped create a blueprint to reform the agency. Successful initiatives
of a "lifetime approach" delivery of services that includes
"day-one" assessments, streamlined services, a new emphasis
on the impact of trauma, and intensive stabilization services for youth
with multiple placements.
of a Child Location and Support Unit for Missing Children that includes
a unique computer tracking system and a 24-hour hotline.
of a Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol that is a structured
decision-making process that has contributed to a 48 percent reduction
in children being re-abused after contact with DCFS.
of the Division of Child Protection to speed service delivery by forming
teams of investigators and follow-up workers.
of a medical forensic task force that includes a network of pediatric
experts in the field of child abuse and neglect to provide assistance
and second opinions on medically complex cases.
of the nation's first web-based Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information
System, which dramatically improves access to the most current information
for child protection workers, supervisors and managers.
DCFS staff in areas where the volume of reports is higher than average.
all child protection supervisory staff to have a Master of Social Work
Child Advocacy Centers, which coordinate investigations of child sexual
abuse and serious physical injury.
of four Citizens' Review Panels, which review DCFS policies and case
records and make recommendations to strengthen policies and improve
the safety of at-risk children.
First Lady's active and substantive involvement on the DCFS Task Force
contributed to the positive direction we believe our agency is heading,"
said Bryan Samuels, DCFS Director. "While we continually aim to improve
our policies and programs, we also realize that serving the best interests
of children depends on the resources, expertise and collaboration among
key stakeholders such as Prevent Child Abuse Illinois."
ceremony at Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church, The First Lady honored
recipients of awards given to local programs to raise awareness and reduce
child abuse and neglect. This years winner of the "Program Excellence
Award" is the Chicago Area Project. The recipient of the "Blue
Ribbon Campaign Award" is Hand's Around the Courthouse, a Parents
Care & Share program of The Children's Home & Aid Society of Illinois.
Following the awards presentation, Mrs. Blagojevich tied blue bows to
trees in front of the Church as a visible expression of a commitment to
help prevent child abuse and neglect. The bows represent hidden bruises
abused children carry with them throughout their life, and serve to remind
the public of the importance of preventing child abuse before it starts.
Similar ceremonies were held today in Springfield and Mount Vernon.
Lady, Patti Blagojevich has worked tirelessly to promote initiatives that
help Illinois families bring up happy, healthy, and successful children.
She has worked to promote the Prevention Development Resource Project
-- a partnership between DCFS and Prevent Child Abuse Illinois -- that
links parents with agencies that offer services to those affected by substance
abuse and domestic violence, or who need other family support services.
Lady was also recently honored by ORBIS International for spearheading
the Illinois Pediatric Vision Awareness Initiative, the first state sponsored
campaign in the U.S. to specifically target Amblyopia, or lazy eye, in
Mrs. Blagojevich launched "The Children's Reading Club" literacy
initiative. "The Children's Reading Club" consists of a recommended
reading list made up of books the First Lady and her daughters enjoy reading
at home. The First Lady began the Children's Reading Club to encourage
parents to read with their children and hopes the recommended list will
enable parents to find books the whole family will enjoy.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services