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GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES RECORD HIGH NUMBERS OF ADOPTIONS FOR ILLINOIS FOSTER CHILDREN
Dateline

Springfield, IL

July 27, 1998

Gov. Jim Edgar today announced that Illinois more than doubled the number of children moved to permanent homes through adoption and legal guardianship during Fiscal Year 1998.

"This increase in adoptions and guardianships represents one of the great success stories of state government," the Governor said. "The numbers are significant because they reflect children who are no longer in the foster care system. They are in permanent, secure homes. No program can substitute for the permanent family structure that will give these children a fair chance in life."

According to Department of Children and Family Services Director Jess McDonald, 4,293 DCFS wards were adopted during Fiscal Year 1998, nearly doubling the department's record of 2,229 adoptions set the previous year.

An additional 1,129 children moved into permanent homes through the department's subsidized guardianship program, bringing the total of FY1998 permanencies to 5,422.

The Governor also announced that the state's substitute care population declined from its peak of 51,599 children in March 1997 to 46,281 children currently -- the state's lowest substitute care population in five years.

The corresponding rise in adoptions and decline in the state's substitute care population has dramatically increased the per capita adoption rate of DCFS wards. There were 84.7 adoptions per 1,000 DCFS wards in Fiscal Year 1998, compared to 32.4 adoptions in Fiscal Year 1993 -- a nearly three-fold jump over a five year period.

DCFS officials noted that Illinois will have no problem meeting President Clinton's challenge to states last year to double adoption rates by the year 2002. "Illinois child welfare staff members have made permanency a priority during the 1990s," Edgar said. "We've gone from dismal numbers in the early 1990s to numbers we can all feel very proud of. But we feel happiest for the children who have found loving, permanent homes. Clearly, the investments we have made in this effort have paid off."

Director McDonald credited recent adoption successes to several factors, including:

  • Increased emphasis on permanency by both DCFS and private agencies to move children from foster care to permanency.
  • Performance contracting, which provides incentives to private agencies to move children from foster care to permanency.
  • Partnerships with Juvenile Courts, especially in Cook County, where Presiding Judge Nancy Salyers has worked to expedite court processes.
  • Illinois' Permanency Initiative legislation, which acknowledges the child's sense of time and implements many changes designed to speed the child to permanency, either with their parents, or, in cases where parents are unable or unwilling to make progress toward reunification, quickly toward adoption.
  • Innovative efforts to recruit adoptive homes, including the Corporate Adoption Recruitment Partnership, recently launched by Gov. Edgar to recruit adoptive families in the workplace, beginning with hospitals.

"Last year, we set what some called an unreachable goal of 4,000 adoptions, and we exceeded it," McDonald said. "The biggest winners are the children who know someone will be there for them and will care for them for the rest of their lives.

I want to thank all of our child welfare partners, from the private agencies to the courts, who recognize that foster care was never meant to be a permanent home. Most especially Iwant to thank the thousands of adoptive families that opened their hearts and their homes to these children."

People interested in adoption can call the Adoption Information Center of Illinois at 800/572-2390 to learn more about the adoption process and children waiting to be adopted.

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For Further Information Contact:
Maudlyne Ihejirika
Tel: 312-814-6847
TTY/TDD 312/814-6989

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