July 20, 2005 The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
(DCFS) today awarded college scholarships to 48 students currently or
formerly in the child welfare system that are pursuing careers in fields
such as law, health care, social services, education, business and the
arts. The Walter and Connie Payton Foundation served as event co-sponsor.
students are among over 700 students enrolled in two- and four-year colleges
throughout the nation for whom DCFS provides care, said Director
Bryan Samuels. Most dont have family members who can guide
them through college. For them, we are their family. Today DCFS cares
for nearly 18,000 children, whereas in 1997 the number was 51,000. Our
kids are older and need different services to prepare them for life on
their own. The Scholarship Program is a big part of that effort.
office in 2003, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich asked DCFS to focus on providing
older wards with more educational opportunities and life-skills to ensure
their long-term success. He applauds the scholarship program as important
to achieving that goal.
succeed in school after overcoming serious obstacles says everything about
how dedicated these kids are to their futures, said Governor Blagojevich.
One of the most important ways we can support them is by helping
to make the dream of a college education a reality.
luncheon today to honor the students and announce the scholarships, Samuels
said the scholarship recipients will receive four-year tuition waivers
to one of the nine state universities in Illinois, such as the University
of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University,
Eastern Illinois University and Western Illinois University.
to right above: Bryan Samuels, DCFS Director; Real Mason, 19, one
of 48 DCFS scholarship recipients; and Connie Payton, Director of
the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation
recipients must maintain a full-time schedule and a C average
to receive financial assistance and access to medical care. Students also
will have access to education advisers as needed. Under the DCFS Scholarship
Program, students will be reimbursed for the cost of books not covered
by financial aid. A total of 218 students applied for scholarships, and
selection criteria were based on scholastic aptitude, written personal
essays and community involvement.
foundation salutes these talented scholars, and we know that the financial
investment and moral support given will pay great dividends in developing
tomorrows leaders and strengthening communities, said Connie
Payton, Director of the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation, who attended
todays event and helped present awards.
Program is part of a broader effort to prepare students for college and
life after they leave the child welfare system, according to Samuels.
Over the last two years, we have made fundamental changes to the
structure and philosophy of the child welfare system in Illinois. We introduced
a lifetime approach to providing care, a strategic shift that
focuses not just on the time a child is in our care but is geared to prepare
children and youth for life beyond the child welfare system, he
to the DCFS awards, the following presentations were made to scholarship
recipients at todays event:
Four of the scholarship recipients additionally were awarded $500 scholarships
as children of veterans. These students are from Bolingbrook; *Brandon,
MS; Charleston and Gibson City
Academic Achievement Award:
Deborah Flowers was a 30-year State of Illinois employee that passed away
in May of this year. Her dedicated service in the DCFS Service Intervention
office in Peoria was honored with this award. The recipient was a Charleston
student (also American Legion Award recipient).
receiving scholarships and awards today are from the following cities
ANTIOCH, BEARDSTOWN, BOLINGBROOK, *BRANDON (MS), BURR RIDGE, CARBONDALE,
CHAMPAIGN, CHARLESTON, CHICAGO, CICERO, CRESTWOOD, GARDNER, GIBSON CITY,
GLENWOOD, HARVEY, *JACKSON (MS), LEWISTOWN, MACHESNEY PARK, MT. VERNON,
NOKOMIS, OAK PARK, PARK FOREST, PORT BYRON, ROCHELLE, ROCKFORD, SCHAUMBURG,
SKOKIE, SPRINGFIELD, STEGER, TINLEY PARK, URBANA, VANDALIA, WARRENVILLE,
*WASHINGTON (DC) AND WOODSTOCK
DCFS wards that have been adopted and moved out of state are scholarship
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services