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Deputy Chief of Staff for Social Services Louanner Peters Joins Child Advocacy Organizations and State Agencies to Kick-Off Child Abuse Prevention Month
Central Illinois Organizations Honored for their Work to Support Abused and Neglected Children

SPRINGFIELD, IL (April 3, 2006) - Louanner Peters, the Governor's deputy chief of staff for social services, will join representatives from child advocacy organizations and state agencies to kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month. The "Teaming Up to Keep Kids … Safe at Home™" event will be held at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda, where two local organizations will be honored for their work on behalf of children. Two other "Teaming Up to Keep Kids…Safe at Home™" events will also be held in Chicago and Mount Vernon on April 3, 2006.

Designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, the month of April is devoted to celebrating and supporting the collaborative efforts involved in transforming communities into nurturing environments that protect children and strengthen families. Other speakers will include Linda Williams, Administrator of the State Central Register (Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Hotline) and Dr. Mary Frisk Loken, Board President, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois. An awards ceremony will recognize two Central Illinois programs that have shown exemplary work in preventing child abuse and neglect. This year's "Program Excellence Award" will be presented to the Macon County Safe from the Start Program in Decatur, and the "Blue Ribbon Campaign Award" will be presented to the 21st Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council in Kankakee. The awards will be presented by Prevent Child Abuse Illinois board president Dr. Mary Frisk Loken and Linda Williams, Administrator of the state Central Register.

"There is so much to be gained for the health and well being of children by building programs and services in our communities that support families in all the ways they need: economic, education, health, early learning, housing, respite," Prevent Child Abuse Illinois Executive Director Roy Harley said. "Strong, healthy communities will make the difference, and we must continue to develop and encourage such communities."

Communities and organizations throughout Illinois are making a difference by offering a continuum of services that support families and children, ultimately preventing child abuse.

Successful initiatives include this year's award winners. The Macon County Safe from the Start
Program provides therapy and support to children who have been abused or who have
witnessed domestic violence or violence in the community. The program, which started in 2002, involves 24 agencies and programs and has served 127 children and their families. Law enforcement officials identify children who have witnessed or experienced violence and provide information about the program to the child's caregiver. To date, about 2,600 children have been identified and 1,500 of them have been referred to Safe from the Start. The program's efforts also include a public awareness campaign on the negative effects exposure to violence has on child development as well as conferences and trainings to teach child care and preschool staff to identify children affected by violence.

The 21st Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council promoted Child Abuse Prevention Month by holding events in Kankakee and Iroquois counties to raise awareness of the efforts of child abuse service providers. The Kankakee event was co-sponsored by the Kankakee County Junior League and the Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce, and the Iroquois event was co-sponsored by the Iroquois County Chamber of Commerce. The Kankakee event also included a "Tending to Your Family Tree" design contest for Pre-K through sixth-graders that included prizes. The contest had more than 120 entries.

"As child welfare advocates, we have a fundamental responsibility to protect children,"
DCFS Director Bryan Samuels said. "However, this partnership event also represents a strong
support network that focuses on a lifetime approach to meet the physical, developmental and emotional needs of children and families in Illinois."
Organizations participating in the "Teaming Up to Keep Kids…Safe at Home™" events include: Chicago Children's Advocacy Center · Child Care Association of Illinois · Children's Advocacy Center of Illinois · Children's Home & Aid Society of Illinois and its Parents Care & Share program · Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago · Illinois Attorney General's Office · Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics · Illinois Department of Children and Family Services · Illinois Department of Human Services · Illinois Family Partnership Network · Illinois Federation of Families · Prevent Child Abuse America · Prevent Child Abuse Illinois · Prevention First · Save Abandoned Babies Foundation · Voices for Illinois Children

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