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DCFS Becomes Nation's First State Child Welfare Agency
To Earn Reaccreditation

Chicago, October 12, 2004 - The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services reached a historical benchmark in social work by becoming the first state agency to earn reaccreditation from the world's leading accreditor of child welfare services.

Already the nation's largest child welfare agency accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services (COA), DCFS was recently notified that it has also become the first state agency to receive reaccreditation - a sign of its ability to maintain high professional standards over a period of years.

"Since the creation of a child welfare task force in the early days of my administration, we have vigorously sought ways to make our child protection and foster care systems more responsive to the needs of the children and families who depend on DCFS. It's heartening to see what can be done when child welfare professionals and community leaders work together to raise the quality bar even higher, but the greatest winners are the children," said Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"At a time when the needs of children are so great and the availability of resources so limited," said COA Director Richard Klarberg, "the reaccreditation of Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services demonstrates a clear commitment to providing quality services in a quality environment. The leadership and staff of the Department can, and should, take great pride in this achievement."

Completing COA accreditation shows that an agency or organization has met the highest national standards of child welfare practice and provides assurance that the organization delivers effective services. Clients can also expect greater participation in decisions affecting their cases, improved case management and more accountability. Private agencies contracting with DCFS to provide foster care services must also be COA accredited. In this past year, accreditation standards also increased, with added emphasis placed on monitoring service quality. Despite these challenges, DCFS workers were able to meet the new, more stringent COA requirements, while at the same time maintaining full caseloads.

"In 2000, when critics were wondering whether departments like ours were too cumbersome to maneuver a COA accreditation process originally tailored for smaller operations, DCFS was among the early state agencies that proved accreditation was both possible and important," said DCFS Director Bryan Samuels. "Today's reaccreditation sends a message that, even in difficult times, child welfare agencies can boost the quality of services."

The Department's reaccreditation is unique because, unlike many other state agencies seeking accreditation, it has invited COA peer review teams to conduct three-day studies of each local field office, as well as their traditional evaluations of central office operations. The Department has also provided advice and conducted events that have contributed to the accreditation of other child welfare agencies around the country. DCFS staff have served as COA peer reviewers for agencies in other states.

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Kim Broom
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services


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