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Foster Care Coalition Urges Community Top Adopt Black Teens

10/26/2016, 1:56 p.m. | Updated on 10/26/2016, 1:56 p.m.
A free foster care event was recently sponsored by the Call to Action: Foster our Youth! Coalition in conjunction with ...
The Call To Action foster care program recently hosted an adoption symposium at Kennedy-King College to encourage adoption of teens. According to Renee Lehocky, executive director for Call To Action Foster our Youth! Coalition, more than 16,000 children are in Illinois DCFS system and 4,000 of those children need permanent placement in a home setting. Photo courtesy of Call To Action: Foster Our Youth! Coalition

Foster Care Coalition Urges Community Top Adopt Black Teens

By Safiyyah P. Muhammad

A free foster care event was recently sponsored by the Call to Action: Foster our Youth! Coalition in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and the Illinois Center for Adoption and Permanency, at Kennedy King College’s Great Hall located on 6301 S. Halsted. Panelists included: George Sheldon, director of DCFS of Illinois, two youth speakers and foster care.

“We need homes that will take youths in and provide a family for them, so they don’t have to end up in residential programs such as group homes or shelters. Youth should be concerned about their school work and not where they are going to live. They should not have to end up in shelters because we don’t have viable resources for a home,” said Renee Lehocky, executive director of Call to Action.

Lehocky said there are more than 16,000 youth in the Illinois DCFS system and 4,000 of the 16,000 children are not in a family-based setting.

"We want to look at recruiting homes and a choice of homes for youth. We are trying to stabilize youth within their own communities so their lives won’t be interrupted. We believe children should have the choice of remaining in their own communities, where they attend school, rather than move them out of their community," stated Lehocky. "Youths are our future. It’s time for us to help these young people who don’t live in a family setting," she continued.

The Call to Action (CTA) coalition launched their foster care program this past February, marking the Kennedy-King foster care event the second of its kind, Lehocky stated. “Our first event was held July 12th at the University of Illinois Chicago campus, where we presented adoption opportunities to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community.

The CTA foster care event was developed by youth participants from the Illinois Youth Advisory Board for DCFS, according to the Illinois Center for Adoption and Permanency's website.

Several social service agencies were on hand to answer questions and provided adoption information to the public, including Aunt Martha’s, ChildServ, Center for Adoption and Permanency, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, National Youth Advocate, SOS Children’s Villages, among others, according to CTA press release.

Lehocky further stated that individuals who are interested in the adoption process must be at least 21 years of age. She also stated that they must submit to a background check and acquire the proper license set by the State of Illinois adoption guidelines.