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Springfield, July 13, 1999 -- Springfieldís two largest hospitals, collectively representing more than 6,000 health care workers, have joined a statewide adoption recruitment initiative to find adoptive homes for children in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.
St. Johnís Hospital and Memorial Health System join 31 other hospitals statewide in the Corporate Partnerships for the Recruitment of Adoptive Families campaign, which develops partnerships between local child welfare agencies and corporations in their communities to recruit adoptive families for DCFS wards.

Each participating corporation works with a local child welfare agency, or with DCFS directly, to plan recruitment activities targeting their employees. DCFS also supports the corporations by providing technical support and training, as well as posters, banners, brochures and other recruiting materials. In addition, DCFS provides a matching specialist to work with licensed families.

"Weíre already a leader in adoption recruitment," said DCFS Director Jess McDonald, noting that Illinois received the national Adoption 2002 Excellence Award last year for exceeding President Clintonís challenge to states to double adoption rates by the year 2002.

"Yet," McDonald added, "there are 696 waiting children whose parental rights have been terminated and who could be immediately placed were there adoptive homes available. Thirty-one available children live in Sangamon County. This initiative will help us recruit families who are willing to open their homes and hearts to these children."

Since the programís inception, 200 families from Illinois hospitals have expressed interest in adopting through the program.

Officials of St. Johnís Hospital and Memorial Health System called the adoption initiative an important step in their organizationsí growing efforts to serve the community.

"People who choose to work in healthcare are especially attuned to providing a nurturing environment," said St. Johnís Hospital CEO Al Laabs. "This partnering to recruit adoptive families among our employees evolves naturally from St. Johnís values of care and respect."

"As part of Memorialís mission to improve the health of our community, we are pleased to participate in this adoption awareness initiative," added Robert Clarke, CEO of Memorial Health System. "We feel a special commitment to heighten the awareness of waiting children, particularly those with special physical and emotional needs."

Kenneth Robbins, president of the Illinois Hospital and HealthSystems Association,

added that his organization chose to become the first corporate partner and to play a lead role in recruiting hospitals to participate in the year-old adoption initiative because hospital employees offer special advantages as adoptive parents.

"It fits with our mission of strengthening communities, helping families, and meeting social needs," Robbins explained. "People who work for hospitals tend to be compassionate, service-oriented folks who want to help people, and many of them would make wonderful adoptive families."

Four local child welfare agencies will work with St. Johnís Hospital and Memorial Health System to plan recruitment activities. The agencies include Family Service Center, Lutheran Child and Family Services, Catholic Charities of Springfield, and Camelot Care Centers, Inc.

Because of an increased emphasis by DCFS and private agency staff to find permanent placements for eligible children, adoptions of children in DCFS care nearly doubled in Fiscal Year 1998 Ė to a record 4,293 adoptions.

"We expect to see another record year for adoptions when the final numbers for Fiscal Year1999 are released this month," said Director McDonald.

This Summer, 13 hospitals will kick off recruitment efforts bringing to a total of 33, the number of Illinois hospitals signed onto the initiative.

"But the demand for more adoptive homes will continue to grow as the full effects of reforms are felt. Thatís why the Corporate Partnerships for Recruitment of Adoptive Families campaign is so important," McDonald said.
Adoption is an option to all who qualify, including married couples, single males and females, renters and homeowners. Financial and technical adoption assistance may be available both before and after a child in DCFS care is adopted.

An adoption hotline (800-572-2390) is available to answer questions and to help families begin the adoption process.



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