IL (AUGUST 24, 2004) -- More than 1,200 foster and adoptive family members
are expected to attend the Department of Children and Family Services'
19th Annual Foster and Adoptive Families Day at the DuQuoin State Fair.
event, sponsored by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, DuQuoin State Fair Manager
John Rednour Jr., the Marion Elks Lodge and DCFS, is held on Family Day,
at the State Fair to honor the thousands of families throughout Southern
Illinois who have become foster and adoptive parents. Activities will
be held at the VIP Tent located at the Fairgrounds from 10:30 a.m. to
picnic has become an important tradition for area families who have opened
their homes to abused and neglected children," said DCFS Director
Bryan Samuels, noting that many area businesses, organizations and individuals
have contributed to make the Aug. 28th event possible.
owe a debt of thanks to these loving families, and the DuQuoin State Fair
is a wonderful place to watch the children enjoy the rides, the food and
everything else that makes this a world-class fair," continued Director
includes food, prizes and entertainment donated by a wide variety of local
businesses, community organizations and individuals. Lunch will be served
by the Marion Elks Club, which is also providing game prizes, attendance
prizes and nearly half of the free ride armbands given to foster and adoptive
will provide drinks, DuQuoin Ice will supply ice at a discounted rate,
and the Anna, West Frankfort and DuQuoin McDonalds will provide cookies
for lunch. The Party Shop of Herrin will provide balloons, which will
be given by clowns from the Whittington Baptist Church. Egyptian Mental
Health, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Catholic Social Services,
and Baptist Children's Home also made various contributions. Many other
individuals and groups have provided prizes and services, including 30
DCFS staff who will volunteer at the picnic.
A new photo
area at the picnic will also serve a more vital purpose - capturing digital
photos of visiting foster children as part of the Department's ongoing
effort to ensure the safety of foster children throughout Illinois. On
any given day between 300 and 400 children served by DCFS are listed as
runaways or otherwise missing from their placements. Photographs of children
stored in the DCFS missing children database help to speed the tracking
and identification of missing wards.
"The DuQuoin State Fair offers a great opportunity to update our
missing children database," said DCFS Director Samuels, noting that
annual photographs are required for each of the 18,600 children in DCFS
care. "Many of the families visit the picnic, and it only takes a
minute to take a digital photograph that may someday help save a child's
his administration, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich convened a DCFS Task Force
charged with identifying the strengths and weaknesses with 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. Within months of
these changes, 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 picnic 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 step to make children in our care
safer in the future."
information about missing or abducted DCFS wards are encouraged to call
the 24-hour hotline at 866-503-0184. People interested in learning more
about becoming foster or adoptive parents to call the Foster Care Hotline
(800-624-KIDS) and the Adoption Hotline (800-572-2390).
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Illinois Department of Children and Family Services