Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
FFY 2011 Annual Progress and Services Report
youth need the stability and mentorship of a foster home well versed in the challenges of the
process of coming of age. Family-supported adolescent care is designed to meet the needs of
DCFS youth, ages 12 to 16, who may present with service needs, which unresponded to, may at
a later date target these youth to residential care. These will include youth with a history of
placement instability/ placement disruption and may include youth with intermittent or chronic
incidences of delinquency; substance abuse/misuse; aggressive or withdrawn behavior and
chronic educational needs. Youth will be provided with a safe, stable and structured home
environment with caring and supportive adults. Foster parents will actively participate in the
youth’s life and fully integrate the youth into their family. Some of the programs are designed
specifically for youth that have exited the juvenile justice system, youth with developmental
disabilities, and youth with medical complexities.
Keeping Children in their School Area
For many years the Department has been faced with the educational challenge of keeping foster
children progressing in school even as they move from one foster home to the next and from
one school district to the next. To help stabilize educational outcomes and to help stabilize a
child’s life, the Department has changed its policy regarding foster home locations so that
every thing possible is done to keep the child in the same school catchments area. The results
have been dramatic. Many more children are able to stay in the same school enabling
continuous education even though they are moving from one home to another. Progress in
implementing this new policy is continuing in FY2012.
In July, 2006 the Department implemented ‘SchoolMinder’ for facilitating the initial placement
into foster care. SchoolMinder is a GIS application that uses mapping tools that identifies
eligible homes within the same school catchment area (Chicago) or school district (elsewhere)
for potential placement. SchoolMinder allows the Department to start the clinical review of
homes for suitability for a particular child with the closest homes. Identifying homes within the
above school geographies, homes are then reviewed in succeeding 5 mile groupings out from
the home of removal or the school of the child (the point of analysis for SchoolMinder can be
the home of removal, the child’s school, if enrolled, or any number of place names such as
parks, hospitals, etc. if the child’s school or home isn’t known at custody taking).
An added benefit of SchoolMinder is that placements are prioritized for foster care homes
closest to the concentrations of intake. This advantage simplifies recruiting (the Department
can now identify the best micro-neighborhood where new homes are most needed. Instead of
general public service announcements (which often flood the system with inquiries far removed
from where foster parents are needed) the Department can target specific schools, etc. at which
to make presentations. Further, it increases the likelihood of the home being used if a candidate
achieves licensure. Basically, it ensures that public parenting dollars are spent in those
communities in most need of parenting resources.
With SchoolMinder, the probability of keeping children linked to their school, family and
neighborhood is increased via placement and recruiting.
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