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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2000

Governor Ryan Announces Illinois Receives $5.3 Million Bonus for Increasing Adoptions

GOVERNOR RYAN ANNOUNCES ILLINOIS RECEIVES $5.3 MILLION BONUS FOR INCREASING ADOPTIONS

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has been awarded a $5.3 million bonus from the United States Department of Health and Human Services for its success in placing children into adoptive homes.

For the third consecutive year, Illinois ranked first in placing children in permanent homes and received the largest bonus of the $20 million bonus pot--$1 million more than California, which ranked second. Last year, Illinois also received the largest bonus--$6.9 million. The bonuses are part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, which called on states to tighten time frames for moving foster children into adoptive homes.

"This is wonderful news and a tremendous accomplishment," Governor Ryan said. "This is an opportunity to remind everyone that there are children out there who are looking for a permanent place to call home.

"We have done an exemplary job in this state of finding homes for our children. But we can't rest on our laurels. Although we have increased our adoption numbers, we still have so many children who need placement."

DCFS oversaw 6,281 adoptions of state wards last fiscal year and 7,275 adoptions in fiscal year 1999, a result of the astounding success in reducing the number of children in foster care from more than 51,000 children in 1997 to less than 28,000 children today.

"Recognition from peers and the federal government is gratifying," DCFS Director Jess McDonald said. "But we must never lose sight of our central motivation-meeting the needs of abused and neglected children.

"Every month is Adoption Month in Illinois with private agencies working hard with government to place children in homes."

Also for the third consecutive year, Illinois won multiple Adoption Excellence Awards. The awards are given annually to honor individuals and organizations that provide loving families and homes to abandoned, neglected or abused children.

Adoption 2002 Excellence awards also were presented to Mr. and Mrs. Carmelo Sanchez for Family Contributions; Illinois Hospital and HealthSystems for Philanthropy and Illinois State University professors Jeanne Howard and Susan Smith for Applied Scholarship and Research.

Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez have been foster parents to more than 15 children, have adopted four children and are in the process of adopting a fifth child. They also have two biological children.

The Illinois Hospital and HealthSystems was the first "corporate partner" to work with the Department of Children and Family Services as a workplace adoption recruitment program. Since 1998, the Association has reached over 65,000 hospital employees with the message of adoption. As a result, 50 families have entered the licensing process, 40 families have received licenses, 19 families have become involved in the adoption process and seven waiting children have been adopted.

Professors Jeanne Howard and Susan Smith of the Center for Adoption Services at the of Illinois State University conducted over 20 years of extensive research on promoting and preserving the adoptions of special needs children. They also have done work on the effectiveness of post-adoption services, which has been beneficial to the training of DCFS and private agency works.

"These awards are proof that the combined efforts of the community, businesses and child welfare agencies are vital to our success in placing children," Governor Ryan added.

"I want to commend Jess McDonald and the DCFS staff, the private agencies who work with them and all the families who have made a positive impact on the lives of so many deserving, waiting children."


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