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Illinois urges families to open their homes to children in need
May is Foster Parent Appreciation Month

Chicago, IL (May, 2004) - The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has rolled out a new "Foster Our Future" recruitment campaign to encourage people to consider becoming foster parents. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has proclaimed May as Foster Parent Appreciation Month.

"Parenting children in foster care is something that should be recognized not just in the month of May, but year-round," said DCFS Director Bryan Samuels. "Foster parents have consciously taken on a challenging role that often requires them to double their load as a parent. We commend them for their unselfish acts of generosity and love."

Foster care is the placement of a child under 18 and in DCFS care in a temporary home other than his or her own. Common reasons for placement include abuse, neglect or abandonment. Prospective foster parents can often expect to be trained and licensed within 90 days. Placement occurs after you receive your license.

Who is eligible to be a foster parent?
Adults 21 and over are eligible to become a licensed foster parent. They can be married or single, homeowners or renters, from various cultural/ethnic/religious backgrounds, and it does not matter if they do/do not have biological children.

  • What is the role of a foster parent?
  • Protect and nurture children.
  • Connect children to safe, nurturing relationships.
  • Meet children's individual, educational, medical and developmental needs.
  • Support children's relationships with their birth families.
  • Work as members of a professional team.

"Let me be clear, don't let those five items lead you to believe that that's all it takes to be a foster parent," noted Director Samuels. "We know that being a parent is challenging, but our Department has resources and experienced workers available to help foster parents perform this very important job. That's why being a foster parent is truly a commendable thing to do."

While the number of children in state care continues to decline, new foster homes are continually recruited to replace foster homes retiring from service, to meet demands in areas where few foster homes exist, and to serve children with special needs. Demand is especially great for foster homes that can serve teens and sibling groups. In fiscal year 2000, there were 31,316 children in state care. That number declined to 20,508 in fiscal year 2003. The current fiscal year data shows that there are 19,297 children (as of April 30, 2004) in the DCFS system.

Families who care for children not related to them are required to have a valid foster care license. However, families who care for children related to them may choose to provide unlicensed care. In both cases, safety checks of the home are conducted.

For more information, call the Foster Parent Hotline at 800-624-KIDS.

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See also

Jill Manuel
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services


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