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SPRINGFIELD, IL, JULY 17, 1998 -- The Child and Family Research Center at the University of Illinois today released its Report on Outcomes, showing that abuse and neglect of children in foster care has steadily declined since 1995 -- to a low of 2.2 percent in Fiscal Year 1997.
"No child in foster care should ever be abused or neglected," McDonald said.. "However, recent trends show that we are continuing to make strong progress on safety and other critical issues mentioned in the report."

Examples of these trends include:

A May report to the General Assembly on the Departmentís Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP), noted a 28 percent decline in the rate of recurrence of abuse or neglect to children since DCFS implemented the Protocol in 1995. The CERAP includes a list of risk factors used to assess whether a child is in immediate danger of harm.

  • Under an aggressive campaign to ensure comprehensive health care for children in DCFS care, 92 percent of children in DCFS care have been enrolled into HealthWorks, the Departmentís health management system.
  • The number of Illinois children in out-of-state institutions has plummeted from its peak of 792 in May, 1995 to 185 currently.
  • Currently, 3,675 DCFS wards have been adopted during the first 11 months of Fiscal Year 1998 -- a 131 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago. In addition, more than 1,000 children have transitioned into permanent homes with legal guardians since the Department began its subsidized guardianship program in May 1997.

"These figures represent a doubling in our Departmentís permanency rate for children over the past year," said McDonald. "As a result, the number of children living in substitute care has fallen to below 48,000 -- the lowest number since Fiscal Year 1995."

The Centerís report is one of the first attempts in the nation to evaluate the effectiveness of a stateís child welfare system through the use of safety, permanency and well-being outcome measures. The report notes there is limited information currently available to evaluate overall well-being -- a limitation facing all child welfare systems in the country. This initial report provides an impetus and a significant foundation for building better systems for states to measure how well children in their care are doing.

The Department commends the Child and Family Research Center in this initial effort.

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