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Illinois changes foster care, child custody system over 10 years

Every child needs love, care, attention and a supportive family while growing up. This helps children grow up to be productive citizens with a healthy and prosperous life. In Illinois, the Department of Children and Family Services works to meet those needs for neglected and abused children by placing them in foster homes with an eye toward their eventual adoption.

Typically, most children are taken into state care because their birth parents have been denied child custody rights, their homes have been proven unsafe or the children's lives were threatened in some profound way.

In the last 10 years, the state has completely restructured its child welfare system. Before the current system was put in place, state caseworkers struggled to find quality homes that would guarantee the wellbeing of 52,000 children who needed the care and safety of good homes. The number of children in need has since decreased to about a quarter of what it was before. This improvement was primarily due to the thousands of foster homes and couples who made the decision to adopt and individuals across the state who offered to provide guardianship for children in need. The DCFS is forthright with applicants and lets them know the obligation is serious and will require patience and considerable hard work.

Foster homes are selected by the DCFS according to the best interests of each child. The fostering adults provide priceless love and care to the children, and the DCFS assists the families with monthly stipends to help cover the child's shelter, food, clothing, medical expenses, day care, education, extracurricular activities and other expenses depending on the age of the child. Other services provided to foster families include any necessary medical equipment, physical therapy and counseling.

Source: State.IL.us, "YOU can make a difference in the life of a child in your community... Be a foster parent!," Accessed on Dec.11, 2014

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