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  News  

DCFS AWARDS COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS TOTALING OVER $700,000 TO 48 STUDENTS STATEWIDE
Connie Payton participates in award presentation ceremony

Jennifer Nance, (holding plaque) recipient of DCFS scholarship, Deborah Flowers Academic Achievement Award and American Legion $500 scholarship, joins Cynthia Moreno, DCFS Deputy Director of Service Intervention, Connie Payton and DCFS Director Bryan Samuels during the July 20 scholarship luncheon

CHICAGO, 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.

“These 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 don’t 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.”

After taking 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.

“To 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.”

During a 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.

Left 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

Scholarship 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.

“Our foundation salutes these talented scholars, and we know that the financial investment and moral support given will pay great dividends in developing tomorrow’s leaders and strengthening communities,” said Connie Payton, Director of the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation, who attended today’s event and helped present awards.

The Scholarship 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 said.

In addition to the DCFS awards, the following presentations were made to scholarship recipients at today’s event:

American Legion Awards
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

Deborah Flowers 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).

Students receiving scholarships and awards today are from the following cities and towns:

ADDISON, 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

*Former IL DCFS wards that have been adopted and moved out of state are scholarship eligible.

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Diane Jackson
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
312-814-6847

 

 

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