IL (July 15, 2004) - As part of its statewide effort to more effectively
respond to the child welfare needs of communities, the Department of Child
and Family Services (DCFS) is partnering with a new Bloomington-based
agency that will serve as a link between McLean County residents and services
offered by DCFS and local provider agencies.
and Community Resource Center (FCRC) will open its doors in August and
operate under the direction of Frank L. McSwain, a longtime family advocate
and local pastor of one of the largest faith-based congregations in the
fewer children in the DCFS system, we are now able to focus greater attention
on the quality of care," said DCFS Director Bryan Samuels, noting
a philosophical departure from the past when the agency grappled to meet
the needs of a foster care population more than twice the size of today.
"We will do this by partnering with community-based groups that work
directly with children and families. We are very pleased that Reverend
McSwain, who has strong ties to this community, has agreed to lend us
his good name and reputation, as well as his counseling and leadership."
relationship with FCRC is expected to help lower domestic violence cases
affecting children, as well as increase the supply of licensed foster
and adoptive families in McLean County area. The center's family support
specialists will also help residents understand the legal processes involved
in family-related court cases.
stands to reason that if more people become educated about the laws affecting
children and families, the result would be fewer violations and fewer
names on court dockets, and that's what we'd ultimately like to see,"
said Circuit Court Judge Ronald Dozier. "Agencies like the FCRC can
really make a difference in the lives of families in this area."
less than 10 percent of McLean County's population is African-American,
approximately 43 percent of youth in substitute care are African-American.
Rev. McSwain said some of the center's key objectives will be to increase
the comfort level for families who may consider adoption or foster care.
"First and foremost, we would like to see children stay with their
biological families, as long as there are no safety issues. However, in
the event that children must be removed from the home, we would like to
see them go into environments where they will experience the least number
of challenges and complications. This would also help them maintain a
sense of normalcy and to make a smoother transition back into their own
homes," said McSwain. "We believe through education and counseling,
fewer children will be removed from their biological homes, and more foster
and adoptive families will become certified."
Samuels said that the department's change in the direction and types of
programs offered is a direct result of feedback the agency has received
from the community. "In the past," noted Samuels, "DCFS
responded to residents by funding efforts resulting in a provision of
holistic services primarily focused on mental health with an advocacy
component. While we have a great appreciation for those efforts, we realize
that the need for these services has diminished. This allows us to not
only reduce our overall costs, but to also better utilize the services
available through providers such as Catholic Charities, The Baby Fold
and The Children's Foundation-agencies that are well-established here
in Bloomington and quite capable of assisting us."
the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, a multi-million dollar facility located
at 801 West Market Street. He and the church's board of directors have
agreed to lease the church's ground floor offices to the FCRC in order
to make child welfare services more easily accessible to families who
need them most. The center will officially open its doors on August 1st.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services