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DCFS, Chicago Mexican Consulate sign historic agreement to protect children of Mexican Nationals

Chicago, IL (June 14, 2004) - In a lead-up to this week's state visit by President Vicente Fox, Mexican Consul General Carlos Manuel Sada joined the state's top child welfare leader in a signing ceremony to update a unique agreement to protect the rights of Mexican children reported abused or neglected in Illinois.

"This agreement is essential to helping us meet the needs of every kid," said Bryan Samuels, Director of the Department of Children and Family Services. "Our Memorandum of Understanding with the consulate is a recommitment to the nation's first agreement of its kind between a state child welfare agency and the government of Mexico. The updated agreement expands protections, gives earlier notices to the consulate and gives child welfare workers clearer directions on how to serve children who are Mexican nationals."

The original memorandum, signed in 2001 between DCFS and the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, provided protection of Mexican minors involved with DCFS and it ensured the delivery of services afforded by the Vienna Convention, the Bilateral Convention and other treaties and laws. It also provided a framework that allowed DCFS staff and Mexican consular officers to coordinate activities of mutual interest and concern.

While the original Memorandum expired in January 2003, the working relationship continued under an automatic extension that lasted until today's formal renewal at the new Mexican Consulate building located at 204 S. Ashland Ave.

According to Director Samuels, the new memorandum is empowered by an updated DCFS policy guide for staff that requires the exchange of more detailed case information with the Mexican consulate, as well as the delivery of a recently published guide for Mexican national parents who become involved with DCFS investigations. Approximately five percent of the children in the state's child-welfare system are Hispanic.

"Holding this ceremony at Mexico's largest consulate in the United States is very symbolic," said Director Samuels, "because we both serve a vibrant and growing Hispanic community that is rich in tradition and family values. This agreement helps us to ensure that rights are guarded, children at risk are protected, and families will be strengthened."

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Jill Manuel
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services


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