IL, Aug. 13, 2004 - Fairgoers visiting the Department of Children and
Family Services' tent, located across from the carnival midway, will be
able to have family photos taken at this year's State Fair. A new photo
area will be housed inside the blue DCFS tent and will serve a vital purpose
- capturing digital photos of visiting foster children as part of the
Department's ongoing effort to ensure their safety.
On an average,
between 300 and 400 children served by DCFS are listed as runaways or
are missing from their placements. Photographs of children stored in the
DCFS missing children database help to expedite the tracking and identification
of missing wards.
State Fair offers a great opportunity to update our missing children database,"
said DCFS Director Bryan Samuels, noting that annual photographs are required
for each of the 18,600 children in DCFS care.
year, our Department sends state fair entrance cards, meal tickets and
discount ride tickets to more than 10,000 foster and adoptive family members
as a way of saying thanks. Many of the families visit the DCFS tent during
their stay, and it only takes a minute to take a digital photograph that
may someday help save a child's life."
his administration, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich convened a DCFS Task Force
charged with identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the Illinois
child welfare system and offering recommendations for reforms. One major
finding was that the Department had failed to work aggressively to track
and locate all children missing from authorized placements.
past year, DCFS has established a Child Location and Support Unit for
Missing Children, and developed a computer tracking system unique to Illinois.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), in partnership
with DCFS, also provided staff specialized training focused on documenting
and locating missing wards. Within months of these new operations, 86
percent (352) of the original 409 children identified as missing by the
Governor's Task Force had been found. While the daily list of missing
wards varies, significant declines have continued over the past year.
State Fair experience is a great way for DCFS to show its thanks to the
families who have opened their homes to children who need their love and
protection, as well as to recruit new foster and adoptive families,"
said Director Samuels. "This year, though, is special because technology
is enabling us to take quick and easy steps to make children in our care
safer in the future."
will also be able to enjoy a variety of entertainment, eat popcorn and
ask child welfare experts how to become foster and adoptive parents. They
will also be able to find out about how to apply for jobs with DCFS --
bilingual child welfare workers are especially needed.
with information about missing or abducted DCFS wards are encouraged to
call the 24-hour hotline at 866-503-0184.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services