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.
foster care agencies and one DCFS region having the top-scoring 2005 Foster
Parent Law implementation plans have submitted the following executive
FIRST PLACE - Catholic
Charities of the Diocese of Rockford, Aurora
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.
- Beatrice Caffrey Youth
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services