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  News  


DCFS DIRECTOR & CCA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
ASK PEOPLE TO CONSIDER FOSTER PARENTING

(Letter sent to editors statewide).

SPRINGFIELD, IL, JANUARY 16, 1998

Dear Editor:

Hundreds of public television stations throughout the country have dedicated air time this month to present "Take This Heart," a powerful documentary about three children living in a Seattle foster home. The issues and feelings raised in this documentary are the same ones experienced by many of the 49,000 children living in Illinois' foster care system today. The program also highlights the important -- often unseen -- role of foster parents. Their contributions and sacrifices are immeasurable, and we need more people who are willing to follow in the footsteps of the foster family shown in this riveting documentary.

Foster parents care for children who have been abused or neglected by their parents or significant others. The children are placed into the homes of foster parents who can give them love, support nurturing and other things children need. Foster parents receive a monthly allowance that covers the expenses of caring for each child placed into their homes. The real reward of the job, though, is the chance to make a difference in the life of a child.

Where is the greatest need today? Children of every age and race need foster homes. The greatest demand is for foster homes serving brother and sister groups, children with behavior or medical problems, teen mothers with children, and minority children. Foster parents have the opportunity to make a life-changing impact for these children. Ongoing training and support by DCFS and participating private agencies are available to make the work easier, but foster parenting can be demanding and does take commitment. Thousands of Illinois families have found foster parenting to be a personally enriching experience.

A person who becomes a foster parent becomes a member of a child welfare team that is dedicated to placing the best interest of children first. This may mean working toward a child's reunification with the birth family, toward adoption, or toward other permanency goals, such as subsidized guardianship. Regardless of the goal, foster parents play a vital part in helping the team -- and the child -- achieve that goal.

Both married couples and single persons can become foster parents. It is okay if both spouses work. People interested in becoming foster parents must attend training, meet with a licensing representative and pass both criminal and child abuse background checks. The first step, however, begins with a willingness to open our hearts and homes to foster children. The next step is to call the Foster Parent Hotline (800-624-KIDS, or 800-575-4608 for TTY users) for details and to receive an application in the mail. It's a simple call, but an important step toward helping children in need.

Sincerely,

Ron Moorman, Executive Director, Child Care Association of Illinois

Jess Mcdonald, Director, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

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