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PROSPECTIVE PARENTS SOUGHT DURING ADOPTION AWARENESS MONTH

SPRINGFIELD, IL, NOVEMBER 1998 -- Proclaiming November Adoption Awareness Month in Illinois, Governor Jim Edgar praised the families who last year opened their homes to a record 4,293 children, while also noting that more than 700 Illinois children still await loving, permanent homes.
"Thanks to loving families and the efforts of alliances like the One Church One Child Program and the Corporate Partnerships for the Recruitment of Adoptive Families, we nearly doubled adoptions this last fiscal year," Governor Edgar said.

"However, our attention remains focused on the hundreds of children currently waiting to be adopted, as well as the hundreds of additional children expected to be freed for adoption as we enter the second year of the state’s Permanency Initiative. There is no better time than Adoption Awareness Month to get the message out that these children need families willing to open their hearts and their homes."

In Illinois, children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are waiting for parents to make a difference in their lives. These are children who need families to help them grow and develop to their fullest potential. They are children who need love, guidance, and a sense of belonging that only a family can provide.

As a result of this need, throughout the month of November, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the One Church One Child Program, the Child Care Association of Illinois, and the Adoption Information Center of Illinois, have planned numerous events that will help in the recruiting of prospective adoptive parents. Any of these agencies can be contacted for additional information.

Also, during the entire month, adoption supporters are being asked to celebrate Adoption Awareness Month by wearing a white ribbon, and publishers are asked to place in their newspapers public service ads that seek adoptive parents.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is committed to finding safe and happy homes for the hundreds of children under state care who are currently available for adoption. Because of an increased emphasis by DCFS and private agency staff on permanent placement for children, adoptions nearly doubled in Fiscal Year 1998, when there were a record 4,293 adoptions, compared to Fiscal Year 1997, when 2,229 adoptions were finalized. Also in Fiscal Year 1998, an additional 1,129 children were transitioned into permanent homes under the Department’s new subsidized guardianship program.

"The child welfare system was never meant to be a permanent home for the 45,000 children in substitute care in Illinois," said DCFS Director Jess McDonald. "It is only a temporary placement until a child is either returned home, adopted, or otherwise transitioned into a permanent home.

"Increasingly, the best option for many children will be adoption. And that means we will need more families who are willing to make a lifelong commitment to an adoptable child."

This year, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has set a goal of 6,000 adoptions, a target that is achievable due to the Permanency Initiative of 1997, which enacted reforms reducing the time frames in which to move children to permanence; performance contracting, which provides incentives to private agencies to move children from foster care to permanency; innovative recruitment programs like the Corporate Partnerships for the Recruitment of Adoptive Families; and partnerships with the Juvenile Courts, especially in Cook County, where presiding Judge Nancy Salyers has worked to expedite court processes.

Financial and technical adoption assistance may be available both before and after a child in DCFS care is adopted. Adoption is an option to all who qualify, including married couples, single males and females, renters and homeowners.

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

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