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DCFS announces
new Maryville Academy agreement

See also
chronology and details about related issues.

Chicago (September 19, 2003)-Governor Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Chicago Archdiocese today announced an agreement that ensures that the children who currently reside at the Maryville Campus at Des Plaines will receive the highest level care as quickly as possible, and also provides Maryville an opportunity to resolve some of the issues impacting the campus and help Maryville fulfill its core mission. This will be accomplished by allowing Maryville time to restructure programs on the Des Plaines campus by temporarily removing the children who live there. Once the problems that forced the temporary closure of the campus are corrected, DCFS will begin sending children to the Des Plaines campus.

"The most important thing here is the safety of the 130 children who live at the Des Plaines campus," said Governor Blagojevich. "Right now, there are programs in Illinois that are safer and that can offer these children better care. Placing these children in those programs is the right thing to do. The next most important step is giving Maryville a chance to correct the problems at the Des Plaines campus, and have the campus up and running again as soon as possible. We're going to work with Maryville and with the Archdiocese to do that, and as soon as Maryville shows us that those problems are resolved, we'll start sending children to the Des Plaines campus again."

Based on persistent reports of quality of care issues from two independent monitors, as well as a series of other facts gathered over a period of months, DCFS will transfer the 130 youth currently housed on the campus to alternative placements. These wards will be transitioned to safe, quality programs tailored to their individual needs, as determined by clinical assessments. Some of the problems at the Des Plaines campus included repeated physical assaults, rape, suicides, and runaways.

An initial group of 39 children will be moved within 30 days to alternative facilities ready to care for them, such as Allendale, Rice and Lawrence Hall. The remaining children on the campus will be transitioned to high-level alternative programs within the next few months. The transition process will be conducted in a clinically-appropriate manner that focuses on the well-being and feelings of the youth.

Staff from each newly-identified placement will travel to Des Plaines to meet the children they will care for and discuss plans for educational, medical and other services that need to be put in place.

After the youth are moved, DCFS clinical staff will work closely with the children and the new placement provider to ensure a smooth transition. The two independent Maryville monitors will continue to consult at the Maryville campus and will oversee the moving process, until all wards have been transitioned.

Because of its long history of caring for abused and neglected children, Maryville has clearly earned the opportunity to correct the problems identified at the Des Plaines campus. By having sufficient time to restructure its operations and clinical programs, Maryville will be able to do so without putting the children they currently serve at risk.

The movement of state wards from the Des Plaines campus will allow Governor Blagojevich, DCFS, the Maryville Board of Directors and the Chicago Archdiocese to work together to help Maryville make the changes necessary, so that the Des Plaines campus can resume serving children who require less intensive services in a safe, caring and nurturing environment.

This partnership between the state, the Archdiocese and the Maryville Board of Directors will work in conjunction with child welfare experts to redesign the Des Plaines campus management structure, clinical capacities, programs and homes. Once all the parties agree that the Maryville Academy is ready, DCFS will refer new children to the campus. These children will more than likely be wards who do not need the services of high-end, intensive programs.

DCFS is gratified to enter into this unprecedented partnership with the Chicago Archdiocese to restore Maryville to its former stature. By doing so, the Department reaffirms a commitment to providing the highest quality services to all youths who are in our care.

- 30 -

Jill Manuel
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

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