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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 1999

Record Adoption Numbers Earn Illinois National Lead

DUQUOIN -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced record breaking numbers for Illinois' adoption program making the state a national leader in matching state children with permanent, adoptive families.

For the second consecutive year, the Department of Children and Family Services has moved a record number of children to permanent homes through adoption and legal guardianship. For 1999, DCFS reported 9,514 wards were adopted or put in guardianship, increasing by 294 percent the number of placements since 1997. In one year alone, 3,019 more children were adopted than the previous year.

"Our success story in 1998 added up to 4,239 adoptions. Our success story today numbers above 7,000. Any adoptive parent within the sound of my voice should consider themselves a hero or heroine for putting on the mantel of parenthood," Ryan added.

At the announcement, the Governor was joined by DCFS Director Jess McDonald at the annual Foster Family Picnic on the grounds of the DuQuoin State Fair. More than 1,500 people participated in the picnic with their adoptive families.

"Along with Director Jess McDonald and his staff, I would like to commend the juvenile courts, private sector agencies and foster families for the work that has been done in Illinois," Ryan said.

"I also applaud Cook County Court Presiding Judge Nancy Salyers for her leadership in making placements. Her efforts resulted in an unprecedented increase in Cook County adoptions and guardianships from 1,196 in 1996 to 7,543 in 1999," he added. "In addition, our corporate sponsors, including WGN TV, the Chicago Sun Times and NBC TV Channel 5, should be thanked for their willingness to feature adoptive children on their airwaves and newspaper pages."

DCFS also reported a 72 percent increase of the number of children moved into permanency through subsidized guardianship from 1998 to 1999. Illinois met its permanency goals by:

  • providing private agencies with financial incentives to move children from foster care into permanent homes;

  • partnering with the juvenile courts to increase parental terminations of custody; and

  • implementing Illinois Permanency Initiative legislation along with the Federal Adoption & Safe Families Act to acknowledge a child's sense of time, and speed through red tape.

    Ryan noted that the increased adoptions contributed to the decrease in the number of children placed into substitute care, also. DCFS reported that the state's substitute care population is at its lowest in six years, declining from 51,600 in March 1997 to 38,000 children in 1999. In addition, the child abuse and neglect rate is at its lowest since 1988 with 34,390 incident reports in 1999 compared to 41,329 in 1988.

    DCFS also proudly announced:

  • an eight-year record low of 6,352 children were taken into protective custody in 1999

  • repeat abuse cases decreased 60 percent from 1995 to 1999 after DCFS intervention.

  • ###

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