IL, MAY 5, 1998 --The state’s child welfare agency is inviting
Illinois families to make a difference in the lives of children by considering
becoming foster parents during May, which has been proclaimed Foster
Parent Appreciation Month by Governor Jim Edgar.
"Whereas, to foster means to nourish, cherish and encourage, which
is what foster parents do..., and whereas foster parents meet a very
special need in our society..., and whereas thousands of caring adults
in Illinois have opened their hearts as well as their homes to provide
a loving and stable environment for more than 40,000 children; and whereas
the contributions of Illinois foster parents to the welfare of these
children are incalculable and irreplaceable... Illinois foster parents
deserve our gratitude and respect for the work they do every day,"
the Governor said in his proclamation.
McDonald, Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family
Services, challenged Illinois families to make a difference in the
lives of children.
are all stakeholders in the safeguarding of children," said McDonald,
whose agency was just named State Agency of the Year by the National
Foster Parent Association in recognition of its efforts to recruit
and support foster parents. NFPA was responsible for establishing
the first National Foster Care Month in 1988.
Department is always in need of loving, stable homes for children
whose natural parents are not safely caring for them," McDonald
said. "We are not just looking for numbers. We are looking for
the right match. There is no better time to consider becoming a foster
parent than during Foster Parent Appreciation Month, when we take
time out to recognize those who dedicate themselves to this important
Department of Children and Family Services is one of the largest and
busiest state child welfare agencies in the nation, with approximately
48,200 children in substitute care statewide.
noting the decline in the number of children in substitute care from
a peak of 51,591 in March 1997 to its present level -- ending two
decades of growth that have seen substitute care numbers more than
double, McDonald stressed that DCFS still needs to recruit more foster
homes, especially those for brother and sister groups, children with
special needs, teen mothers with children, older children, and minority
State Agency of the Year Award was presented to the Department on
May 1, during the National Foster Parent Association’s national
convention in Orlando, Fla. State child welfare agencies nationwide
were evaluated in three categories: services to children, services
for foster care programs, and services to foster parent organizations.
Battig, president of the Illinois Foster Parents Association, said
her chapter was proud to nominate DCFS because the Department has
been a strong and tireless advocate on behalf of the children and
families of Illinois.
Illinois, we feel we are being heard," Battig said. "DCFS
is really trying to do a good job for the children and foster parents
of Illinois, and the Department needs to be recognized for it, as
well as Jess McDonald. He’s a Director that will ask us into
his office to sit down and talk about any problems, but not only problems.
He will ask us how they can be fixed."
received a a Special Recognition Award from the National Foster Parent
Association for his efforts that have improved Illinois’ foster
awards highlight the good work being done in Illinois," said
McDonald. "But the greatest credit goes to the hard work of individual
foster parents, not just to organizations. Their contributions and
sacrifices on behalf of abused and neglected children are immeasurable,
and we owe them a great debt of thanks."
who are interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents can call
the Foster Parent Hotline (800-624-KIDS) or the Adoption Information
Center of Illinois (800-572-2390) for details. To report suspected
child abue or neglect, the public should call the DCFS Child Abuse
is working to speed the licensing process for more people who want
to become foster parents. It is also working to offer more convenient
hours for training, and improving support services. Foster parents
can be either married couples or single persons, renters as well as
homeowners. Those interested must attend training and pass both criminal
and child abuse background checks.
parents receive a monthly allowance that covers the expenses of caring
for each child placed into their home.
real reward of foster parenting, however, is the chance to make a
difference in a child’s life," McDonald said.