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For the fourth year in a row, the Department of Children and Family Services has presented awards to honor agencies who achieved top scores in their 2001 Foster Parent Law implementation plans.

The required annual plans are scored on a variety of criteria, including how well narratives explain how the agency or region implements each of 14 foster parent rights outlined in the state's Foster Parent Law. Plans must also describe how the agency helps their foster parents achieve each of 17 foster parent responsibilities contained in the Foster Parent Law, and also describe how management includes foster parents and direct service staff in developing and monitoring the plan.

The Law also requires that the Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council (Council) review, approve and monitor the plans.
Council members review and approve 90 - 100 plans each year. Members score plans based primarily on how thoroughly they address all provisions in the Foster Parent Law and how well the plans seem to work for foster parents.

Following are summaries of the annual implementation plans from the agencies that received the highest scores for calendar year 2002. Director McDonald will recognize each agency at a ceremony during the Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council meeting in Chicago November 15, 2002. He will also award a $5,000 grant to each agency to train foster parents and staff on the Foster Parent Law and related issues.

For more information please contact Ray Gates in the DCFS Divison of Foster Care and Permanency Services at 217/524-2422.


The ChildServ Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan for 2002 demonstrates the Agency's commitment to its 108-year-old mission tp serve children. The Plan is clear documentation of ChildServ's intentions to continue working collaboratively with its foster parents as part of the child welfare team. In addition, it demonstrates the Agency's goal to develop new and innovative ways to continue and enhance these working relationships.

ChildServ is a private, not-for-profit child-well being organization affiliated with the United Methodist Church and registered with the Presbyterian Children's Homes and Related Ministries (PCHARM). ChildServ was founded in 1894 as an orphanage in Lake Bluff. It evolved into a multi-site child well-being organization with several locations throughout Cook, Lake and DuPage counties. Today, more than a century later, ChildServ continues in its mission of helping children and their families build better lives by serving nearly 4,000 children and their families annually. ChildServ's wide range of programs includes foster care and adoption, residential group homes, child care, tutoring, early childhood education, and parenting support.

The development of ChildServ's Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan is a collaborative effort between our foster parents and staff. Each year ChildServ holds at least two meetings at which the previous year's plan is discussed, as well as what changes and/or enhancements can and need to be made. Once the Plan has been conceptualized and our collaborative Plan team has completed its formulation; ChildServ staff writes it. In addition to the Agency's teamwork-driven process, ChildServ's Plan has traditionally been strengthened due to:

  • Monthly training to foster parents on requested topics
  • Timely notification of meetings where foster parents are stakeholders
  • Train foster parents to be trainers and recruiters
  • Full disclosure to foster parents regarding their foster children
  • Ensure that ChildServ foster parents are treated with dignity and respect
  • Investigation procedures of alleged foster parent transgressions is fair, impartial, and strictly according to regulation
  • All ChildServ foster parents receive a copy of the Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan by mail
  • Provide in-home training of foster parents as needed
  • Develop and support a Foster Parent Advisory Council
  • Create and deliver a well-written Plan.

ChildServ has demonstrated a high degree of commitment to its foster parents, who aretreated as partners in ChildServ's mission of helping children and their families build better lives.

Lakeside Community Committee

Lakeside Community Committee's mission is to provide a full spectrum of care to our foster children, foster parents and biological families. Our goal is to provide quality services by implementing proper support to our children and families. Lakeside's staff and its foster parents have made considerable progress toward the goals of creating, monitoring and supporting the plan as a team. Our agency is committed to its children, their families, foster parents and staff.

It is the philosophy and policy of Lakeside to include foster parents in all-major aspects of program developments in the agency. The foster parents affiliated with Lakeside Community Committee are an integral component of our daily function and are unquestionably viewed as team members. Foster parents' concerns, skills and knowledge have consistently helped our agency to achieve success and growth in many community and child welfare endeavors. Their dedication to children and family concepts is one of the most positive movements for youths of all ages and backgrounds. Additionally, the Foster Parent Law continues to serve as a tool to involve foster parents in every aspect of the fostering experience.

The organization's Oversight Committee (made up of representatives from staff, Board of Directors and foster parents who are on the Foster Parent Council) is responsible as a team to ensure compliance with the yearly Foster Parent Implementation Plan. Lakeside staff value our foster parents and staff. Their suggestions to improve services are taken seriously. Their recommendations and suggestions are welcomed and when they can be incorporated, they are utilized.

The Foster Parent Implementation Plan was developed as a collaborative effort between foster parents and Lakeside's staff. This plan provides the forum for feedback and improvement to better serve our children. The challenges have been many, but we have been learning, growing and improving every step of the way.

Foster parents' input is very important in how services are provided therefore, a representative from the Foster Parent Council in included in the organization's Strategic Planning Meetings.

As a whole, the staff at Lakeside Community Committee understands that foster parents are more likely to continue in their role if they feel they receive support and encouragement from the agency staff with whom they work.

The organizarion also stress to the foster parents the importance of working with foster children and making a true commitment to them. The Foster Parent Council decided to take on the theme "No Placement Disruptions" for year 2002. Our foster parents understand how placement disruptions can affect not only the child, but also his/her behavior in school, their grades, relationships and other endeavors.

Overall, Lakeside Community Committee understands that foster parents play an integral part of the agency's success and encourage continuous success involving the Administrators Case Managers and Foster Parents in the development and oversight of the Plan. This collaboration has given a new meaning to the term "teamwork". Lakeside's foster parents and staff are looking forward to another year of providing quality service to our children and their families, thus renewing our commitment.

Hoyleton Youth and Family Services

The Hoyleton Youth and Family Services foster care program is based on a commitment to meeting the spiritual, physical, emotional and social needs of the children and families that are served, and emphasizes that foster parents fulfill an integral role on the child welfare team by both providing care to children and by promoting the best interest of the child.

That commitment is spelled out in detail throughout the Hoyleton Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan. It begins with the designation of a foster parent as a voting Board member of the Hoyleton Board of Directors. In that manner, foster parents can both impact the over-all direction of the agency and represent the larger group of foster parents in Board decisions. Hoyleton also sponsors a Foster Parent Advisory Council that meets monthly. In that format, foster parents can give direct input to agency administration about the program and its services, and help develop a training plan that meets their needs. A third vehicle for input from foster parents is the Satisfaction Survey that is conducted annually. The survey, administered by the Quality Improvement department, gives foster parents an anonymous vehicle to express concerns and issues, as well as to identify strengths and positives. Each program administrator must respond to the Quality Improvement department about any identified issues, and include a corrective action plan if appropriate. Comparisons are made from year to year in order to assure that the agency continues to improve the quality of its services.

The initial orientation of staff working in the foster care program emphasizes the importance of the role of the foster parents and helps them understand that not only do foster parents have the right to give input concerning services and permanency for the child but they also have a unique set of skills and knowledge that will enhance the quality of the service planning and permanency goal of the child. Agency policy requires that foster care staff meet with the foster parents to review and give input on the service plan prior to the Administrative Case Review and also regularly schedule formal staffings concerning their foster child.

The Plan also recognizes that foster parents have certain responsibilities. Of priority importance is to be respectful of the child's biological parents and background, to keep the foster care worker informed of any significant issues that arise while they are caring for the child and to advocate for what they believe is in the child's best interest, even if it may not be consistent with the agency's position. The Plan emphasizes that through honest and open communication and discussion of alternative services and plans, it is most likely that the child's best interests will be served. Finally, the Plan recognizes that foster parenting is often a stressful and challenging vocation that requires specialized training and expects that foster parents will actively participate not only in initial but also on-going training.

Children's Home Association of Illinois

The 2002 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan submitted by the Children's Home Association of Illinois is a reflection of the agency's program policies and procedures. Foster parent rights and responsibilities are delineated throughout program policies, which demonstrates how strongly Children's Home believes in the inclusion of foster parents in the organization and delivery of foster care services. Foster parents have a recognized voice within the agency's system, and they are integral to every aspect of the system.

Communication and coordination are key elements in delivering high quality foster care services. This is reflected in Children's Home's Implementation Plan. Throughout the year regular leadership meetings, support groups, training opportunities and social events are held with foster parent participation. These interactions reflect the core essence of foster parent rights and responsibilities.

The Baby Fold

In preparing our Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan, The Baby Fold created a Foster Parent Committee made up of both foster parents and staff. The committee meets monthly to discuss issues related to the agency. This includes working on the Implementation Plan, as well as discussing DCFS and The Baby Fold policy, program development, and training needs and opportunities. After receiving the grant last year, the committee worked together to come up with trainings and activities that would be beneficial to the agency and the families we serve. The Baby Fold offered the 1-2-3 Magic foster parent training by Dr. Tim Shannon, which was open to all foster parents from each of the four child welfare agencies in town. This training explained the 1-2-3 Magic discipline technique. We also hosted a training by Salvador Gonzalez from the Tax Counseling Project of the Center for Law and Human Services. The training focused on providing tax benefits information for foster and adoptive parents. The Baby Fold provided many family activities throughout the year in order for our families to have positive interaction and a connectedness to the agency. These activities included a bowling night, with was held at the Illinois State University Bowling and Billiards Center. The night included free bowling, shoe rental, billiards, foosball, air hockey, pizza and pop. We also had an Appreciation Dinner for all foster parents, which was catered at a local church. We had guest speakers including Dr. Rob Lusk, Clinical Director at The Baby Fold and the juvenile judge for McLean County, Judge Ronald Dozier. A foster family picnic was held at Miller Park, which was supported by the Kiwanis Club of Bloomington. The picnic offered swimming at the beach, a jumping castle, games, prizes, and lunch. The Baby Fold is currently planning to offer a back to school ice cream social in September. The ice cream social will allow families to enjoy an afternoon of conversation and treats with others involved with the agency. For those families just becoming licensed with the agency, the committee has developed a Welcome Party. This includes a potluck dinner and orientation to the agency. Committee members prepare dinner and spend time getting to know the new families. After dinner, the new foster families meet with a Family Development Specialist to review their Foster Parent Manual, which has been created as a guide for all foster parents (along with a magnet for their refrigerator that lists all emergency telephone numbers.) The families are then allowed to ask any questions they may have about the agency, policies or procedures, or general fostering concerns. The agency is planning to host Welcome Parties after the completion of each cycle of PRIDE classes. The Baby fold is dedicated to providing exceptional care and support for the families which we serve. It is the hope of the agency that the close interaction between staff and families through activities and trainings will continue to support and retain current and prospective families.

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