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Catholic Charities Foster Care Cases to Be Transferred

Catholic Charities Foster Care Cases to Be Transferred

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An Illinois youth services agency will take over foster care cases relinquished by Catholic Charities in Rockford following recent passage of the state's civil unions law.


Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Kendall Marlowe said Thursday that approximately 300 foster care cases handled by the Rockford diocese will be transferred to the group Youth Services Bureau of Illinois Valley, which operates in six counties in the state. Rockford's Catholic Charities announced last month that it would pull out of its state-funded adoption and foster care services.

Three other Catholic Charities agencies in the state have filed suit seeking a religious exemption from the new law, which they claim forces them to accommodate couples in civil unions in violation of existing statutory protections.

Tony Riordan, chief operating officer of Catholic Charities in Peoria, told The Advocate last week that state adoption and foster care contracts for the five Catholic Charities organizations in Illinois total about $33.6 million annually.

"Same sex couples' and unmarried cohabiting couples' application for adoption or foster care referrals could be fully and adequately serviced and accommodated (as they are now) by [the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services] referring them to other providers which do not share [our] conscientious religious objections," attorneys for Catholic Charities of Peoria, Springfield, and Joliet wrote in their complaint.

But Marlowe has said that the state is capable of transferring adoption and foster care cases to organizations that will abide by state law and refrain from discriminating against couples in civil unions.

"It is the intention of Youth Services Bureau, working in cooperation with DCFS and Catholic Charities, Diocese of Rockford, to hire existing caseworkers to maintain those relationships with foster children and foster families, helping make this transition as seamless as possible," Marlowe said. "Services to children and families will continue with minimal disruption."

Marlowe's full statement:

"The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services announces today that we have arranged for the transfer of foster care cases currently handled by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Rockford, to the Youth Services Bureau of Illinois Valley. DCFS commends both agencies for the way they have collaborated with us on this transition in the best interests of the children and families we serve.

"Youth Services Bureau, an independent community based agency started in 1971 and licensed as a child welfare agency in Illinois since 1981, currently serves 1,200 children and families in six counties through a wide range of services. Objective measures in the DCFS performance-based foster care program show Youth Services Bureau is among the highest-rated foster care providers in our downstate regions. It is the intention of Youth Services Bureau, working in cooperation with DCFS and Catholic Charities, Diocese of Rockford, to hire existing caseworkers to maintain those relationships with foster children and foster families, helping make this transition as seamless as possible. Services to children and families will continue with minimal disruption."

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