Director Introduces New Youth Programs
During State Fair Visit
Initiatives Reflect Growing Trend of Serving Older Youth in Foster Care
IL (August 18, 2006) - Leaders of the state's child welfare agency and two community-based
agencies met during Foster and Adoptive Family Day at the Illinois State Fair
to announce new initiatives targeting youth in the Springfield area..
of foster and adoptive family members have been given free admission to the nation's
best state fair as a way of saying thanks for opening their homes to children
in the state's care," said Director Bryan Samuels of the Department of Children
and Family Services. "Just as important, it is also a time to focus attention
on the needs of youth as they grow toward adulthood."
by Springfield YWCA Executive Director Mary Hardy-Hall
and Springfield Urban
League President/CEO Nina Harris, Samuels announced the creation of two DCFS-funded
programs to strengthen at-risk youth and equip them with vital social and employment
YWCA's Girls Awakening Power program and the Urban League's Work-Attitude-School-Study
Youth Program," said Samuels, "will offer unique blends of activities
and experiences that many young people need, but are just not getting access to,"
YWCA Executive Director Hardy-Hall called Girls Awakening Power (GAP) an important
tool in helping girls, ages 12 to 16, learn to find their unique voices. Based
on research indicating that many teen girls have lower self esteem and fewer opportunities
to build confidence than boys, GAP will offer up to 25 girls a safe and challenging
academic and social environment. GAP highlights include a computer lab, homework
tutoring, visits to woman-owned businesses, group discussions and business etiquette
Nina Harris explained that the Springfield Urban League's Work-Attitude-School-Study
Youth Program (WASSuP) will provide skill-building services for older youth in
DCFS care. Up to 15 youth, ages 16 to 20, will be supported by the program. Services
will include GED instruction, tutoring, mentoring, job shadowing, on-the-job work
experience and college campus visits.
$45,000 GAP program and the $91,700 WASSuP program are part of a "Lifetime
Approach" DCFS has introduced to enhance services for children and youth
in state care, and to support the transition of older youth to a successful and
productive adulthood. DCFS offers a variety of unique programs for youth in the
transition to adulthood, including Find Your Future, Youth in College, Youth in
Scholarship and the its Employment Incentive Program.
to Director Samuels, the Department's substitute care population recently dropped
to below 17,000 children - the lowest level since fiscal year 1988.
efforts to reunite children with their biological families and move eligible children
into adoptive families have paid off in more children living in safe, permanent
homes," noted Samuels. "The new programs introduced today," he
added, "signal a new direction being taken in child welfare services. Today
we are doing a better job of understanding the unique needs of the children who
remain in care, and then customizing our services to meet their real world needs."
is the nation's largest accredited state child welfare agency, as well as a leader
in the development of cutting-edge, child protection, foster care and adoption
services. For more information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, call
Delores Robinson, DCFS 312-814-6847