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Governor Blagojevich, Maryville Academy and DCFS Joint Statement on the new vision for Maryville's Des Plaines Campus

Chicago (October 3, 2003)--Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Maryville Academy and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) today announced a plan that will convert Maryville's Des Plaines Campus into the state's first center for academic achievement serving children in Illinois' child welfare system.

Of the 3000 wards aged 17 to 19, only one-third graduate from high school. Currently, there are over 500 wards in college programs. The Department of Children and Family Services is proposing the creation of the academic center to serve this important group of youth in state care in ways that have never been available before.

As proposed, the Maryville Des Plaines Campus will target DCFS wards aged 17 and older in an academic setting. This includes children finishing high school who wish to do college prep work, college students in the DCFS system who need a home for vacations and holidays, and college students who are on summer break and wish to participate in internships, summer jobs or other corporate opportunities. In addition, the center will serve high school graduates who prefer vocational training. This center for academic excellence will enhance the achievements of the most talented and capable children in state.

There will be an application process to gain admission to the program.
DCFS and the Maryville staff will jointly review the applications. The admissions committee will consider both the ward's accomplishments as well as potential. In order to be eligible, the child must have no recent history of violence, runaway or major acting out. The admission committee can consider a ward's history of delinquency or treatment in deciding whether to admit that candidate.

The center would be on Maryville's open campus, staffed by providers with expertise in secondary and higher education. It will have an on-campus school available to assist in tutoring, advance placements and vocational training. Staff will also include guidance counselors and a school psychologist. Corporate sponsors and community agencies will be recruited to help in the vocational work, summer jobs and permanent jobs for the wards completing the program.

Wards will come from foster homes, relative placement or any other DCFS-funded institution. The process will be similar to receiving a scholarship. Relatives, friends and foster families will still be involved with the wards. Events, such as graduations and holidays, will be open, inclusive events.

As the Des Plaines campus transitions from primarily a residential treatment center to an academic excellence center, Maryville and DCFS will work together to transfer some of the current wards to other programs. Maryville will have a period of eight weeks to complete their program reforms and initiate the transitioning of the Des Plaines Campus to a center for academic achievement.

During that transition period, the majority of youth at Des Plaines will remain at the campus until they are able to complete their treatment programs during the coming year and move into community placements. A group of current wards at the campus that are eligible for the academic program will be enrolled in the program when it starts up.

Maryville will also complete a clinical treatment plan for every child on the campus, detailing the exact care each child will receive, and the timeframe for remaining on the Des Plaines campus. The average length of stay for a child living on the Des Plaines campus is intended to be eleven months. As the children who currently live on the campus receive the care they need and move on to the next appropriate level of care, DCFS will begin sending children to the campus who wish to participate in the academic achievement institution.

The center for academic achievement will be the first of its kind in the country.

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Jill Manuel
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

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