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2005 Foster Parent Law
Implementation Plan Winners Announced

On May 20, 2005, the Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council sponsored its annual awards and recognition ceremony for the five foster care agencies and one DCFS region having the top-scoring 2005 Foster Parent Law implementation plans. Family foster care is an essential service for children and their families who have been separated due to child abuse, neglect, or dependency. Recognizing that foster parents are an essential part of and fulfill an integral role on the child welfare team, the Illinois General Assembly determined that there was a need to establish public policy regarding the rights and the responsibilities of foster parents. This policy is known as the Foster Parent Law. This law requires that each DCFS region and every agency providing foster care by contract with DCFS is required to develop an annual plan to implement the law. This Council (Statewide Foster Care Advisory Council) is responsible for ensuring that the plans are submitted and scored each year. Plans must score a minimum of 75 out of 104 points to be accepted by the Council.

The five foster care agencies and one DCFS region having the top-scoring 2005 Foster Parent Law implementation plans have submitted the following executive summaries.

FIRST PLACE - Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockford, Aurora
103.98 points
Catholic Charities believes very strongly in providing safe, secure and well-supported foster homes for abused and neglected children. To that end, the agency believes strongly in recruiting, training, and supporting good foster homes for these children. The agency put together a comprehensive 2005 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan. One highlight of the plan is that the agency assesses foster parents' abilities in order to place children in homes that are able to meet their needs. Throughout the year, it provides training to address the current issues that foster parents are facing. In addition, the agency tries to be cognizant of the stressors the foster parents are facing and to aid them whenever possible, providing respite services when needed. Catholic Charities provides family counseling for those foster families who would like to take advantage of that service. They are most challenged by efforts to prevent placement disruptions. Staff members are proactive and identify children who are felt to be at risk for multiple placement disruptions. The agency hopes that through effective communication between foster parents and staff, they will be able to address the issues that arise in the home before they become significant enough to require that a child be moved.

SECOND PLACE - Beatrice Caffrey Youth Services, Chicago
103.88 points
Beatrice Caffrey Youth Service (BCYS) has a 53-year history of meeting the needs of the community. The Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan is one example of the tremendous commitment staff has toward achieving safety, permanency, and well being for their clients. Their plan is structured to build a bridge of communication between the foster parent and Beatrice Caffrey Youth Service. It works well because it is a governing document that is adhered to across the board between the agency and the foster parents, ensuring a practice that is impartial and in the best interest of the children and families in care. Supervisors, case managers and licensing representatives all work on the plan throughout its development and evaluation. Beatrice Caffrey Youth Service is committed to ensuring that all foster parents are considered as professional team members, and they are dedicated to providing equitable treatment to all.

THIRD PLACE - DCFS Cook North Region, Chicago
103.80 points
This implementation plan is the result of a collaborative process with the foster parent community. Annually, the region holds meetings at its three offices where foster parents, licensing and casework staff, supervisors and regional administration come together to review the plan from the previous year and make recommendations for enhancements based on successes, challenges, and changes in policy and practice. Suggestions are incorporated into the plan and then implemented over the next year. Collectively, the region works together with foster parents to enhance the lives of children and families. The region believes that children and families must be treated with dignity and respect and that they have the right to receive community-based services that are culturally relevant and linguistically appropriate. The region strives to create and advance an atmosphere of teamwork that is invested in achieving permanency, safety and well being in the best interest of children and families.

FOURTH PLACE - Hephzibah Children's Association, Oak Park
103.78 points
The past year of foster care at Hephzibah has included many exciting and challenging new developments. From new programs to additional staff, Hephzibah is constantly carrying out its mission of using innovative services to meet the needs of children and families. In turn, foster parents have shown continuous commitment, dedication, and love for the children in Hephzibah's foster care program. The agency's Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan reflects that Hephzibah takes great pride in maintaining positive, solid relationships with foster parents and children. By responding to foster parents' strengths, they are encouraged to remain committed to the children in their care. Hephzibah includes foster parents in all components of service, which not only empowers them as caregivers, but also ultimately ensures a safe, structured, loving environment for a child who might not otherwise have the opportunity.

FIFTH PLACE tie - The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
103.67 points
Teamwork is the backbone of providing quality services to children in care. The agency's implementation plan underscores some important characteristics of effective teamwork. Caregivers must be willing to share time and information with team members. Casework and counseling staff must view the caregivers as equally knowledgeable partners and seek their input. All must acknowledge their strengths and their needs in order to plan for a child's future.

Caregivers and staff are offered ongoing joint training in order to understand each other's objectives and goals. The agency shares information with foster parents through its bi-monthly newsletter, on-site presentations, and in-home reading and video materials.

Caregivers are offered support through monthly foster parent support groups, regular contact with casework and counseling staff, and a yearly conference providing both information and fellowship.

FIFTH PLACE tie - The Youth Campus, Park Ridge
103.67 points
The agency's Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan demonstrates a strong team approach toward caring for children and families. The plan was developed during numerous meetings by foster parents, direct line staff, and agency administration. The Youth Campus developed a "TYC Spirit of Teamwork Foster Parent Law Grievance Procedure" that truly includes the foster parent as part of the professional team. The Foster Parent Support and Advisory Group is one of the many strengths of the plan. The group meets on Saturdays and offers training, guest speakers and support to all foster parents. The agency offers administrative support, a Foster Parent Newsletter, food, a budget, and participation incentives to support the group's efforts.


Diane Jackson
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services


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