Heights, IL (July 22, 2004) - While most people marking a 50th birthday
celebrate the accomplishments of a half century, Connie Payton of The
Walter and Connie Payton Foundation spent her day celebrating the extraordinary
academic achievements of college-bound DCFS scholarship winners.
Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Walter Payton
Foundation today presented 48 high school graduates with the scholarships
at the Metropolis Ballroom in Arlington Heights. Scholarships recipients
receive up to four consecutive years of tuition and academic fee waivers
to be used at participating Illinois State Universities, as well as a
$445 monthly stipend and a medical card. This year, a record 254 applicants
submitted materials to be considered for the educational scholarships,
up from 134 last year.
is no place that I'd rather be today than here congratulating these teens
for a job well done," said Connie Payton. "They worked hard
during their high school years despite facing some formidable obstacles.
I commend them for meeting the challenge head on."
provides scholarships to youth who are currently under guardianship of
the department or who have left the department's guardianship through
adoption or private guardianship arrangements. Applicants seeking a DCFS
scholarship must be 16 or older and possess a diploma from an accredited
high school or GED program by the end of the school year. The students
are chosen based on scholastic aptitude, academic rank, citizenship, personal
character and community involvement.
is an important step towards maturity," said DCFS Director Bryan
Samuels. "The mere fact that these students submitted essays and
an application for the scholarship is a strong indication that they want
to succeed and be productive contributors to society. I truly wish them
A first time
feature of this year's event is an orientation scheduled to take place
prior to the luncheon. Students will be provided with a comprehensive
overview of the scholarship program, detailing the procedure required
to receive their monthly stipend and medical cards as well as the importance
of maintaining their GPA. Additional topics to be discussed include tips
students transitioning into college can benefit from, such as housing
issues, medical care, campus safety and alcohol and drug abuse prevention.
is an important ingredient in reaching independence and I am glad these
youths will be able to add this to the list of memorable experiences in
their life," said Deputy Directory Cynthia Moreno. "I would
like to congratulate everyone who recognized the importance of applying
for this scholarship as well as those adults who constantly encourage
them to excel."
Scholarship Program began in 1964 with the awarding of four scholarships.
Students can obtain scholarship applications and additional information
about the DCFS Scholarship Program through their caseworkers.
Scholarship recipients will receive a waiver of tuition and fees if they
attend any of the following Illinois State Universities:
State University Eastern Illinois University
Governors State University Western Illinois University
Illinois State University Northeastern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University Southern Illinois University
University of Illinois
office, Governor Rod Blagojevich convened a task force to review the child
welfare system and make recommendations on how DCFS could better meet
the needs of children both living in and exiting state care. One of the
key recommendations being implemented by DCFS is a more focused approach
to helping children in state custody achieve academic success.
The scholarship program is just one of many avenues the department uses
to support its priority of improving the educational outcomes of children
in the foster care system. Recent DCFS education initiatives under the
direction of the Division of Service Intervention are:
efforts to ensure enrollment of 3 and 4 year-old children in DCFS system
in Early Childhood Education programs.
more detailed Chapin Hall studies that focus on DCFS children's performance
in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Parenting and Pregnant Teens performance
in CPS, overrepresentation of wards in the special education classes,
mobility issues, and children old for grade.
- A new
8th grade enrollment fair was held in November 2003. This provided an
opportunity for 8th graders in Chicago to enroll in high school. Various
schools were available to take applications and Director Samuels addressed
- 60 additional
slots for Parenting and Pregnant Teens were added to the Alternative
relationship building with Chicago Public Schools.
communications with Chicago Public Schools by conducting presentations
to guidance counselors and collaborating with the CPS truancy initiative.
with South Suburban School Districts.
recipients represent the following cities:
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services