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United Methodist Children's Home and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services partner to create innovative foster care program

Mt. Vernon, February 10, 2006 - The United Methodist Children's Home (UMCH), in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), has announced the implementation of the Family Supported Foster Care Program. Over the last 5-6 years, child welfare workers have witnessed a dramatic increase in the need for specialized services for foster children ages 12-16; DCFS and UMCH are joining forces to provide services to this unique target group.

"I'm very proud of the efforts by UMCH and DCFS in developing this program," said DCFS Southern Region Administrator Bill Peyton. "With the Department adopting a lifetime approach to caring for children that come to us, this is a concrete step toward helping children facing the challenges of becoming adolescents."

Educational, medical and mental health services will be the cornerstone of care for children placed in this program. When it reaches capacity, the program will be staffed by 10 Professional Foster Parents, two Case Managers, two Therapists, a Licensing Representative and a Case Aide. The effort is being lead by Mini Hope-Kimble who has 15 years of experience in the field of social services. To date, four licensed foster homes have been approved for the program and two children have been placed in care.

"What is unique about this foster care program is that our foster parents are a critical member of the team caring for the child, " said Clete Winkelmann, President/CEO of United Methodist Children's Home. "They are experienced experts in caring for adolescents and will be a partner in the decision-making process. In return, our professional foster parents will receive a salary, benefits and tremendous support, in addition to a monthly board stipend."

When Professional Foster Parent Cecelia Rogers was asked to describe her parenting style and how it would apply to the program, she said, "I parent with purpose! The kids in this program need that extra special dedication and determination that is required with purposeful parenting." In addition, after having been in his new foster home since mid-December, a 15-year-old-boy recently stated, "This is the best foster home I have ever been in. I am having an awesome time and love taking care of the horses."

Additional experienced foster parents are needed to provide a consistent, nurturing and stable environment for teens. If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, please contact Mrs. Kimble at 618/242-1070, extension 240.

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Contact: Kim McMorris, 312-814-6847

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