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GLEN ELLYN, IL,JULY 30, 1997 --DCFS Director Jess McDonald will join Illinois State Senator Beverly Fawell in honoring the DCFS Glen Ellyn office, 800 Roosevelt Road, Building B, Suite 990, July 30 at 1 p.m. for being among the first seven DCFS sites to become accredited by the Council on Accreditation. This milestone marks the first step in an aggressive four-year plan to eventual accreditation of all DCFS local offices.

"It is my pleasure to congratulate the Department of Children and Family Services on achieving accreditation for seven of its sites," said Gov. Jim Edgar. "Accreditation establishes Illinois as a state that accepts nothing less than excellence in performance and service to its children and families. And it says to the citizens of this state that we care about what is most important: protecting and serving our most vulnerable citizens -- abused and neglected children."

DCFS will be the only state agency to achieve accreditation for its entire department as well as for all the private sector agencies that the department contracts with for foster care services. The state of Oklahoma's child welfare agency is accredited, but Oklahoma does not require its contracting agencies to be accredited.

"Accreditation means that seven of our local offices have met rigorous national standards that help to ensure quality service," said Director McDonald. "Here in Illinois, we are taking a leadership position in ensuring that within four years, all of our offices will perform services needed in their communities, that they will conduct safe and effective operations and will manage their funds wisely."

McDonald will be joined by local community leaders and legislators as he visits the seven DCFS offices in Galesburg, Harvey, Alton, Wood River, Mt. Vernon, Charleston and Glen Ellyn during the month of July. McDonald will present a plaque at each site.

At a time when the welfare system and the health care industry are being overhauled, evaluating the quality and level of services that are provided by child welfare agencies is increasingly important.

"Illinois residents can be sure that the state's most vulnerable children are being provided for in a way that meets all applicable standards, thanks to the DCFS statewide accreditation plan that is currently underway," said David Liederman, executive director of the Child Welfare League of America. "DCFS' proactive accreditation initiative has positioned Illinois as a leader among state child welfare agencies."

The Council on Accreditation is an independent, nonprofit, nationally recognized accreditor of mental health and social service agencies in the United States and Canada. The accreditation procedure involves an in-depth and detailed examination of an agency's operation that includes personnel, safety, fiscal and program management.

"Each of the seven field offices that underwent the lengthy process has shown significant improvements in the levels and quality of services as well as employee morale. The rejuvenated sense of professional pride and confidence translates directly into significant service improvements for the children and families DCFS serves," McDonald said. "Without a doubt, accreditation will significantly raise the quality of services for the abused and neglected children in Illinois."


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