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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2008

First Lady Patricia Blagojevich launches Child Abuse Prevention Month in Illinois
Working together the key to strengthening families and protecting children

CHICAGO – First Lady Patricia Blagojevich today applauded the collaboration of state and community-based initiatives as the key to supporting families and preventing child abuse, as Governor Rod R. Blagojevich proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Illinois.  In partnership with Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, over 100 events throughout April will call attention to effective prevention efforts in communities across the state.
 
“Children are safe when families are strong, and we are working together to help parents succeed,” said Mrs. Blagojevich.  “Whether it’s insurance to provide proper healthcare or quality preschools to jump-start education, the State of Illinois is working more closely than ever with our communities.  We’re listening to Illinois’ families, and providing solutions close to home to help parents withstand the stresses that can lead to harm to children.  Working together, we are making real progress in preventing child abuse and neglect.”
 
As just one example, the Department of Children and Family Services leads over 40 public and private sector partners in Strengthening Families Illinois, an initiative to collaborate with early childhood education centers to build protective factors around children.  Through six learning networks supporting over sixty early childhood programs, DCFS helps early childhood staff work with parents to prevent harm to children before it begins.  In 2007, the Center for the Study of Social Policy recognized DCFS as the foremost national model for its leadership and innovation in implementing the Strengthening Families approach.  DCFS was commended for its success in linking early childhood education with child welfare to proactively protect children.
 
“We cannot wait for a child to be injured or neglected to take action,” said DCFS Assistant Director Velma Williams.  “Strengthening Families Illinois shows us that we can cut across the boundaries of programs and agencies to support families before a crisis occurs.  Educators, child welfare professionals and parents collaborate to help keep families strong.”
 
Prevent Child Abuse Illinois is a longstanding partner with DCFS and many other state, county, municipal and community-based organizations.  Since its founding in 1990, it has been the only statewide organization solely dedicated to child abuse prevention.  Part of a national network, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois fulfills its mission through public awareness and education, and engaging communities in establishing effective programs serving families and their children.
 
“April is a time of hope and optimism for the safety and well-being of children in Illinois,” said Prevent Child Abuse Illinois Executive Director Roy Harley.  “Join us in the events planned in your community.  We can succeed in preventing abuse when we come together for the sake of our children.”
 
Text of the Governor’s proclamation follows:
 
WHEREAS, no child should have to endure mistreatment or abuse, especially at the hands of an adult. However, the unfortunate truth is that far too often children are abuse and neglected by the very people that should protect them; and,
 
WHEREAS, studies show that child abuse and neglect can ruin children’s lives by making them more likely to drop out of school, suffer from drug and alcohol abuse, and ultimately become abusers themselves; and
 
WHEREAS, discovering solutions to child abuse and neglect requires the involvement and collaboration of citizens, organizations, and government entities throughout Illinois; and
 
WHEREAS, it is important that society learns to recognize the warning signs that a child might be abused or neglected. These include: nervousness around adults; aggression toward children or adults; frequent or unexplained bruises or injuries; low self-esteem; and poor hygiene; and
 
WHEREAS, in Illinois, effective child abuse prevention programs have contributed to a decline in reports of child abuse and neglect, from 139,720 reports in Fiscal Year 1995 to 111,742 reports in Fiscal Year 2007; and,
 
WHEREAS, child abuse prevention programs in Illinois are effective because of partnerships created by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Prevent Child Abuse-Illinois, Strengthening Families Illinois, Parents Care & Share of Illinois, and other government entities, social service agencies, schools, religious organizations, law enforcement agencies, businesses and individual citizens:
 
Therefore I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim April 2008 as CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to support child abuse prevention programs and report suspected cases of abuse to the Illinois Child Abuse Hotline at 1 (800) 25-ABUSE.


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