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  News  


GOVERNOR EDGAR ANNOUNCES ADOPTION INITIATIVE

CHICAGO, IL, APRIL 8, 1998 --Gov. Edgar today joined representatives of the Illinois Hospital and HealthSystems Association (IHHA) and child welfare leaders to announce a major adoption recruitment initiative benefiting children in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.
"This program is an ideal marriage of the public and private sectors, working to give these children a chance to have secure and loving families," the Governor said.

Corporate Partnerships for the Recruitment of Adoptive Families, an initiative first detailed in Gov. Edgar’s Jan. 28 State of the State address, develops partnerships between local child welfare agencies and corporations in their communities to recruit adoptive families.

Each participating corporation will work with a local child welfare agency, or with DCFS directly, to plan recruitment activities aimed at encouraging their employees to adopt. DCFS will also support the corporations by providing technical support and training, as well as posters, banners, brochures and other recruiting materials.

"Illinois is already a national leader in adoption recruitment," the Governor said, noting that the state will exceed President Clinton’s challenge for states to double adoption rates by the year 2002.

"Yet, our attention is not focused on meeting artificial goals. We’re trying to meet the real world needs of thousands of children waiting to be adopted, and this initiative will help us recruit families who are willing to open their homes and hearts to these children," the Governor said.

According to DCFS figures, more than 1,400 children currently living in foster homes and other kinds of substitute care now have adoption as their "permanency" goal and are not currently living in an adoptive placement. This goal remains even though 2,841 children were adopted during the first eight months of the current fiscal year—a 140 percent increase in adoptions compared to the same time period a year ago.

"We need more adoptive homes because we have more children with adoption goals," said DCFS Director Jess McDonald. "And there are a series of new reforms at work that we expect to raise the number of adoptable children even higher than it is now."

Jim Lago, Chairman of the DCFS Child Welfare Advisory Committee, and Executive Director of Catholic Charities said "we are excited about this new initiative especially the opportunity to partner with our health care colleagues. The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago is working energetically with the St. Joseph Hospital to achieve successful adoption results for children badly in need of loving and permanent homes."

The Governor explained that the Permanency Initiative legislation that he signed last July has enacted reforms that will free more abused and neglected children for adoption more quickly.

Changes resulting from the legislation include the elimination of long-term foster care as a permanency goal for the children in DCFS care; shorter timetables for parents to show they are willing and able to correct the conditions that led to abuse or neglect of the children; and more factors that can lead to the expedited termination of parental rights.

"We expect to finalize the adoptions of nearly 4,000 DCFS wards during the current fiscal year," McDonald said. "But while that far exceeds the record 2,229 adoptions set last year, the demand for more adoptive homes will grow even faster as the full effects of these reforms are achieved. And the biggest winners will be the children who will no longer have to languish year after year in a child welfare system that was never meant to be a permanent home."

Bruce Crowther, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Illinois Hospital and HealthSystems Association, said his organization chose to become the first corporate partner to join the Governor’s initiative because hospital employees offer special advantages as adoptive parents.

"We’re pleased to be the state’s first partner in this Initiative. It’s a natural for hospitals—it fits right in with our mission of strengthening communities, helping families, and meeting social needs. People who work for hospitals tend to be compassionate, service-oriented folks who want to help people, and many of them would make wonderful adoptive families. We’re delighted to be able to help find loving families for these children."

Hospital-child welfare agency partnerships have already been formed in Chicago and Peoria. Catholic Charities of Chicago has teamed up with Catholic Health Partners doing business as St. Joseph Hospital to recruit adoptive homes for children in that private agency’s caseload. The Jewish Children’s Bureau has partnered with Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center of Chicago. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois’ partners are Bethany Hospital and Trinity Hospital. Lakeside Community Committee has partnered with LaRabida Children’s Hospital & Resource Center. Volunteers of America’s partner is Children’s Memorial Hospital, and Children’s Home and Aid Society has a partnership with Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

In Peoria, the OSF St. Francis Medical Center and the Methodist Medical Center of Illinois are partnering with four private child welfare agencies; Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Counseling and Family Services, Children’s Home Association, and Catholic Social Services.

"These partnerships represent only the start of an initiative that will eventually touch communities statewide," the Governor said. "I am asking other corporations and associations to join IHHA and its members in supporting Corporate Partnerships for the Recruitment of Adoptive Families. We are all stakeholders in the futures of Illinois’ children, and this Initiative will help change young lives."

Director McDonald added that DCFS is working hard to make the adoption process faster and easier for prospective families.

Financial and technical adoption assistance may be available both before and after a child in DCFS care is adopted. An adoption hotline (800-572-2390) is available to answer questions and to help families begin the adoption process.

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