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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2001

Governor Announces Illinois Receives Federal Training Initiative to Improve Child Welfare Service Delivery

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that Illinois has received a Federal IV-E waiver from the United States Department of Health and Human Services to launch a first-in-the-nation training initiative to improve the safety, well-being and permanency of children in foster care served by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

The training initiative will total $12.7 million in combined state and federal funding, allowing private agencies providing foster care services through contracts with DCFS to have access to state-of-the-art training on best practices in child welfare service delivery. The IV-E Waiver--named for Title IV-E of the Social Security Act which governs foster care funding from the Federal Government--grants Illinois flexibility in using federal funds for the implementation of innovative child welfare programs.

"The work of the private sector has been key to Illinois' improvements in child welfare service delivery," Governor Ryan said. "This federal waiver greatly enhances the training provided for private child welfare workers. I am pleased we have this opportunity to build on our partnership with the private sector to improve the quality of services these vulnerable children need to help them settle into a more secure and nurturing environment."

This represents the third federal waiver for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which has been granted more waivers than any other child welfare jurisdiction in the country.

Currently, approximately 80 percent of the children and families involved in the Illinois child welfare system receive services from private agencies.

"The non-profit sector is a critical component to the Illinois child welfare system and we are proud to be a partner with DCFS to deliver the highest quality services. This additional federal money will go a long way to assist private agencies in fulfilling our mission to help children in need to find a stable and loving setting," said Fr. Michael Boland, Administrator of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

DCFS will get federal reimbursements for the cost of developing the curriculum, training private agency staff, and evaluating the outcomes of the initiative. The program begins later this year.

In addition, the training curriculum for DCFS and private agency staff will be expanded to include topics on drug addiction, mental health and domestic violence--which historically have not been funded by the federal government.

"The program authorized by the waiver provides a unique opportunity for collaboration between private agency providers and the state child welfare system to develop a training model that will promote excellence in services for children and families," said Marge Berglind, President and CEO of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

"I'm convinced there is no more powerful investment in the future of the child welfare field than having a skilled workforce that is fully prepared and energized to take on this demanding work. The lessons we learn here will make a lasting contribution in Illinois and to the field nationally," said DCFS Director Jess McDonald. "The program is expected to reach nearly 1,000 new private agency staff from Cook and the surrounding counties over a five-year period. These new workers will complete a mandatory foundation-training program and will continue through the demonstration training. "

Illinois now serves approximately 26,000 children in substitute care.


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