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A Faster Way for Some Illinois Kids to Find a Forever Family

PHOTO: The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has been selected to participate in a program that will reduce the amount of time children spend in foster care, and help them find homes with families living in other states. Photo credit: Scott M. Liddell/Morguefile.
PHOTO: The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has been selected to participate in a program that will reduce the amount of time children spend in foster care, and help them find homes with families living in other states. Photo credit: Scott M. Liddell/Morguefile.
June 9, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois is the first state for a new program that can eliminate some of the red tape that can delay the time it takes for some foster children to find a "forever family."

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has been chosen for an interstate program that uses a web-based system to expedite adoptions for children moving across state lines. Andrew Flach with DCFS says placements are sometimes hampered by out-of-date technologies and procedures.

"Right now, when it comes to interstate adoptions, for the most part it's being done through fax machines and traditional mail," says Flach. "This will allow states to be able to access a central warehouse to exchange information, and help move these adoptions through much more quickly."

Illinois is the first state to be selected for the implementation phase of the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise, joining Florida, Indiana, Nevada, South Carolina, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, which participated in the pilot program. An estimated 50,000 children are currently in foster care in Illinois.

As a child-welfare system, Flach says the first goal is to move children back with their biological parents. When that is not possible, the next step is to find an adoptive family. He says occasionally a child's permanent home will be found across state lines, but sometimes a child's final move can take a while to arrange.

"This will allow us to take a process that used to take months and shorten it down into a matter of weeks," he says. "We can move that child as quickly and as appropriately as we can out of the care of the state, which even on our best days is a bad parent, and into the home of a loving family."

According to preliminary data, the pilot program is improving outcomes for adopted children, and saving taxpayer dollars.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL