& MRS. EDGAR, DCFS
RECEIVE NATIONAL ADOPTIONS AWARD
IL, NOVEMBER 24, 1998 -- Gov. Jim Edgar, First Lady Brenda Edgar and
the Illinois Department of Children and Family Sevices have been nationally
recognized for pushing Illinois to the forefront of child welfare initiatives
by dramatically increasing the number of children moved to permanent
homes through adoption and legal guardianship.
Governor and Mrs. Edgar, along with DCFS Illinois Department of Children
and Family Services Director Jess McDonald, are each recipients of the
Adoption 2002 Excellence Award. It was bestowed on the Edgars and Director
McDonald by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna
Shalala Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, the Governor and Mrs. Edgar and Director McDonald were invited
by President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton to a recognition
ceremony at the White House Ceremony.
groups or individuals won three of the eight national adoption awards
commitment to children who are wards of the state is evident in the
number of Illinoisans who came forward this past year to provide these
children with loving, nurturing and stable homes," the Governor
and I are personally grateful to all those who opened their hearts and
their homes to help us over the past year as we doubled the number of
children who moved to safe, caring homes. We also want to express our
appreciation to the private agencies who were responsible for 70 percent
of those adoptions, along with DCFS staff and our Juvenile Court allies
in this achievement.
these kids in need to safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible has
been a priority for Brenda and me for many years. This award is truly
gratifying because it means thousands more Illinois kids now have the
nurturing environment they need to shape and lead happier, healthier
and more productive lives."
Governor and Mrs. Edgar received the Adoption 2002 Excellence Award
for individual/family contribution recognizing their efforts to promote
and increase adoptions.
Adoption 2002 Excellence Award honors individuals and organizations
that have met the challenge of President Clinton’s Adoption 2002
initiative to move more foster children into permanent homes. In 1997,
President Clinton challenged the states to double the number of adoptions
and permanent placements in five years. DCFS exceeded the President’s
challenge in just one year.
received the Adoption 2002 Excellence Award for increasing the number
of permanent placements from 2,229 in FY 1997 to 5,422 in FY 98, including
4,293 adoptions and 1,129 guardianships.
Director McDonald echoed the Governor’s appreciation to the many
allies without whose help, he said, the Illinois adoption initiative
would have fallen short.
allies united on many fronts to prioritize permanency," McDonald
said. "Private agencies, DCFS administrators and staff, foster
parents and relatives, the Illinois General Assembly, and the Juvenile
Courts came together to ensure compliance with the federal Adoption
and Safe Families Act, particularly in Cook County, where Judge Nancy
Salyers has worked to the expedite court process.
the Illinois Permanency Initiative signed into law by Gov. Edgar in
July, 1997, when safely reuniting children with their families is not
possible, DCFS can now act more quickly to move children out of the
child welfare system and into permanent homes," McDonald said.
"The Permanency Initiative has been key to achieving the record
high number of adoptions for Illinois foster children."
recently received the State Agency of the Year Award for 1998 from the
National Foster Parent Association, also recognizing the agency’s
efforts on behalf of Illinois foster children.
Governor credited recent adoption successes to several factors, including:
emphasis by DCFS and private agencies on moving children from foster
care to permanent homes.Performance
contracts, which provides incentives to private agencies moving children
from foster care to permanent homes.
partnerships with the Illinois Juvenile Courts.
Permanency Initiative legislation, which acknowledges the importance
of quick action for children, and implements many changes to speed the
placement of children in permanent homes, either with their parents
or, with other families if parents are unable or unwilling to make progress
efforts to recruit adoptive homes, including the Corporate Adoption
Recruitment Partnership, launched by the Governor to recruit adoptive
families in the workplace, beginning with hospitals.
Edgar, who also has made children’s issues a priority since becoming
First Lady in 1991, accepted her Adoption 2002 Excellence Award on behalf
of the thousands of Illinois children still in the State’s child-welfare
am extremely proud to receive this award on behalf of the 44,000 children
who still are in the State’s child-welfare system," Mrs. Edgar
said. "This award reflects the joy of all those children who have
been blessed to find loving families, as well as the hope for the future
held by the thousands of children who still await families to call their
Edgar’s initiatives include Project Heart, which she and the Governor
established to reduce the red tape of the adoption process. Mrs. Edgar
also has testified before the General Assembly, and she has helped develop
a model adoption benefits program, produced public service announcements
on adoption, and led the Help Me Grow campaign for children and families.
As part of that campaign, she worked with retailer Marshall Fields for
donations of a P.J. Huggabee bear to every child entering the Illinois
foster-care system. The Edgars also have personally and generously donated
to adoption causes over the years.
third Illinois Adoption 2002 Excellence Award went to the Hope for the
Children organization in Rantoul, a private, not-for-profit agency cited
for its innovative adoption recruitment program.
Governor Edgar proclaimed November 1998 as Adoption Awareness Month
in Illinois. The proclamation highlights Illinois’ nationally recognized
role as an adoption recruitment leader, the importance of community
and the need for new adoptive families.