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CHICAGO - 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 premiere academic enrichment center serving children in Illinois’ child welfare system.

Under the plan, Maryville will begin implementing necessary reforms to convert the Des Plaines campus into an academic enrichment center and help children in the DCFS system graduate from high school (currently, only 33% of children in the DCFS system finish high school). In addition to helping children graduate from high school, the program will provide vocational training for high school students who are not going on to college, provide a home for college students during summers and vacations, and provide tutoring for students, mentoring programs, and internships.

The plan includes the following key elements:

39 of the 130 children who currently live at Maryville’s Des Plaines campus – and have significant needs – will be moved within the next several weeks to programs in a better position to serve children with complex needs. This transition process includes a meeting at the Des Plaines campus with the child, Maryville staff, DCFS, the child’s family and others to ensure each child’s specific needs are properly assessed and addressed. At these meetings all participants, especially the child, has input into the placement decision. Once the new program is selected, the child will visit the site and meet the people who run the program. This process has already begun.

Maryville will have six to eight weeks to implement a host of management reforms that will address the issues and problems that have faced the campus over the past several years. If the problems have been successfully addressed and the reforms have been successfully implemented – meaning the Des Plaines campus can provide a safe living environment and proper treatment for the children who live there – the remaining children will stay on the campus until they complete their treatment plan.

If the reforms have not been successfully implemented, DCFS will continue to move the children to programs that can provide better care.

In addition to making a series of reforms, Maryville must complete a plan outlining the individualized care each child needs, and detail the clinically appropriate length of time the child stays on the Des Plaines campus before moving to a more appropriate setting. As each child remaining on the campus completes his or her treatment plan and moves on to the next level of care, DCFS will begin sending children to the Des Plaines campus to participate in the academic enrichment program.

The average length of stay for the children who are currently at Maryville is supposed to be eleven months. As a result, by the beginning of the next academic year, the vast majority – if not all – of the children who currently live at Maryville will have moved onto the next appropriate level of care, and a new group of 130 children will have moved into the campus to attend the academic enrichment program.

The management reforms to be made by Maryville include:

  • · Establishing a management structure that clearly allocates all decision-making authority and accountability for programs, policies, and administration of the Des Plaines campus;
  • · Establishing a leadership team with specific expertise in secondary and higher education, child and adolescent development, clinical social work and psychology;
  • · Providing a three-year budget in the Consolidated Financial Report (CFR) format and should include costs for operations, proper staffing, occupancy, and direct care of all children who live at Des Plaines;
  • · Establishing intake protocols that document specific academic, social, and clinical histories of each child; and
  • · Requiring Maryville’s leadership team to participate in joint admissions processes with DCFS for children applying for enrollment at Des Plaines.

Father John Smyth will help lead the conversion at the Des Plaines campus into an academic enrichment center by joining Maryville’s Board of Directors and will act as the chief fundraiser for the institution.

“This plan gives Maryville a direction and a focus that takes advantage of their years of experience,” Blagojevich said.

“But most importantly, it helps the children who currently live at Maryville, and it gives thousands of other children in the DCFS system a chance at a better future.”

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