LSSI's 2008 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan Earns Award

At the DCFS award presentation were (from left):  Erwin McEwen, director, DCFS; Jeffrey Brown, LSSI foster parent; Michelle Caldwell, program director, LSSI’s Children’s Community Services; Pat Hawkins, LSSI foster parent; Velma Williams, assistant director, DCFS; Ruth Jajko, associate executive director, LSSI’s Children’s Community Services; and John Schnier, executive director, LSSI’s Children’s Community Services.On May 16, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) presented LSSI with an award for its plan. “Our plan was recognized for the way … we involved foster parents in [its] development,” says Ruth Jajko, associate executive director of LSSI’s Children’s Community Services.

To write LSSI’s 2008 Foster Parent Implementation Plan, four workgroups were formed: one in Cook County, and one in each of the state’s northern, central and southern regions. The groups were composed of foster parents, front-line employees and supervisors. Each group was assigned a set of rights and responsibilities to review and revise as needed. Foster parents were much more involved in the entire process and worked alongside the staff members from their regions.

“Greater involvement of both staff and foster parents helped bring LSSI’s plan off the shelf and into the real, everyday working lives of the entire child welfare team, who now have more investment in and knowledge of the Foster Parent Law and LSSI’s plan to implement it,” says Jajko.

The person who nominated the plan for the award commented, “This entire plan … obviously took a great deal of time, which is reflected in a concise plan that has simple language and is completely up to date. … they deserve [kudos] for doing this as it was meant to be done.”