FIRST LADY BRENDA EDGAR READS TO ADOPTED CHILDREN
IL, DECEMBER 18, 1998 -- First Lady Brenda Edgar, who recently received
a national award for her efforts to increase the number of Illinois
children who have moved to safe, caring homes through adoptions, today
hosted a party for adopted children at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers
at 3110 W. White Oaks Drive.
20 adopted children and their families from the Springfield area listened
to a book reading by the First Lady and received an assortment of childrenís
books donated by Barnes & Noble.
is a warm and happy time to remember what adoption is all about,"
said Mrs. Edgar, who gave a parting gift of $20,000 this month to the
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Childrenís
Benefit Fund, through Chicago retailer Marshall Fields.
can see through the eyes of these children the kind of love and acceptance
and security they feel. Thatís the power and the life-changing
potential offered by adoption," Mrs. Edgar said.
First Lady and Governor Jim Edgar last month received the Adoption 2002
Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The first couple, as well as the Illinois Department of Children and
Family Services, were among eight individuals and organizations nationwide
that were honored by President Clinton at a White House ceremony highlighting
Adoption Awareness Month.
of an increased emphasis by DCFS and private agency staff on permanent
placements for Illinois foster children, adoptions throughout the State
of Illinois nearly doubled in Fiscal Year 1998 - to 4,293, compared
to Fiscal Year 1997, when 2,229 adoptions were finalized. An additional
1,129 children were transitioned into permanent homes in Fiscal Year
1998 under the Departmentís new subsidized guardianship program.
attention remains focused on the hundreds of children currently waiting
to be adopted, as well as the hundreds of additional children expected
to be freed for adoption as we enter the second year of the stateís
Permanency Initiative," said DCFS Director Jess McDonald. "These
children still need families willing to open their hearts and their
Illinois, children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are waiting
for parents to make a difference in their lives. These are children
who need families to help them grow and develop to their fullest potential.
They are children who need love, guidance, and a sense of belonging
that only a family can provide. The Illinois Department of Children
Family Services is committed to finding safe and happy homes for the
hundreds of children under state care who are currently available for
child welfare system was never meant to be a permanent home for the
44,000 children in substitute care in Illinois," said Jane Elmore,
DCFS Deputy Director of Foster Care & Permanency. Elmore of Springfield,
attended the book reading with her 4-year-old adopted daughter Quin.
loved the stories," her mother said. "Mrs. Edgar has been
a strong advocate for the children of Illinois for many years, and DCFS
will ever be grateful to her for having the well-being of our children
on her agenda."
Edgarís contributions on behalf of the children of Illinois include
Project Heart, which she and the Governor established to reduce the
red tape of the adoption process. Mrs. Edgar also helped develop a model
adoption benefits program, produced public service announcements on
adoption, and led the Help Me Grow campaign for children and families.
As part of that campaign, she worked with retailer Marshall Fields for
donations of a P.J. Huggabee bear to every child entering the Illinois
foster-care system. The Edgars also have personally and generously donated
to adoption causes over the years.
& Noble is honored today to host Mrs. Edgar in celebration of adoptions,"
said Barnes & Noble Community Relations Director Matthew Kunce.
"Just as loving, nurturing homes are critical to a childís
development, books too are important to that development, and we are
pleased to host this most worthwhile endeavor."
year, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has set
a goal of 6,000 adoptions, a target that is achievable due to several
factors: the Permanency Initiative of 1997, which enacted reforms reducing
the timeframes in which to move children to permanence; performance
contracting, which provides incentives to private agencies to move children
from foster care to permanency; innovative recruitment programs like
the Corporate Partnerships for the Recruitment of Adoptive Families;
and stronger partnerships with Illinois Juvenile Courts.
and technical adoption assistance may be available both before and after
a child in DCFS care is adopted. Adoption is an option to all who qualify,
including married couples, single males and females, renters and homeowners.
adoption hotline (800-572-2390) is available to answer questions and
to help families begin the adoption process.