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Springfield IL 62701-1498
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Prevent Child Abuse Illinois and DCFS Team Up to Keep Kids SAFE AT HOME

Springfield, Illinois - March 28, 2000 - On the eve of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Prevent Child Abuse America, is launching a public awareness and outreach program to help ensure that children throughout Illinois are truly "Safe At Home".

At the same time, DCFS is observing a significant milestone - the 20th anniversary of its State Central Register Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-25-ABUSE). To mark the hotline anniversary and officially kick-off Child Abuse Prevention Month, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois and DCFS are holding a "Safe At Home" reception and news conference on Tuesday, March 28, at DCFS Headquarters, 406 East Monroe, in Springfield.

There have been more than a million family reports of abuse made to the DCFS hotline since 1980, resulting in more than 400,000 indicated family reports.

"The hotline has been an invaluable tool for keeping kids safe, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the past 20 years," according to Jess McDonald, DCFS Director. "Everyone who places a call to the hotline, whether a member of the public or a mandated reporter, is the eyes and ears of the agency. It's through partnerships like these, and with groups like Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, that we can effectively fight child abuse and neglect."

The hotline has seen a 24 percent annual decline in child abuse reports from 139,720 in fiscal year 1995 to 106,761 in fiscal year 1999 - after years of annual increases. "We can attribute this drop to the organizations and individuals across Illinois who have made children a priority," explained Roy Harley, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois. "This movement has worked to raise awareness about child abuse, educate our communities about the importance of reporting suspected incidents, support families so they can provide a home free of violence, and inform professionals about prevention and detection," he added.

Prevent Child Abuse Illinois is a statewide organization focused exclusively on the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Since its founding in 1990, the organization has developed or promoted initiatives that contribute to strong, healthy families where children are raised in a safe and nurturing environment, and provided parents with the help and tools to assure the healthy development of their children. Prevent Child Abuse Illinois accomplishes this mission through public awareness campaigns, parent education and support programs, professional training and technical assistance, and community-level coalition building.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is the cabinet-level state agency that protects Illinois children from abuse and neglect. DCFS was established in 1964 to receive abuse and neglect reports, conduct investigations, and take protective actions. For two years in a row, the White House has honored DCFS for its record-breaking performance in moving children to permanent homes through adoption or legal guardianship. At the same time, statistics show a 30 percent decline of Illinois children taken into protective custody between fiscal year 1995 (9,037) and fiscal year 1999 (6,352) - meaning more children are staying safe in their original homes.


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