043033 UC Ingalls Mental Health Awareness Month Ad Reoirter
Olivia DelGiudice, program administrator for Kaleidoscope, points to the foster care agency’s motto depicted in a painting done by a foster child. --Greater Southwest News-Herald Photo by Dermot Connolly

Olivia DelGiudice, program administrator for Kaleidoscope, points to the foster care agency’s motto depicted in a painting done by a foster child. --Greater Southwest News-Herald Photo by Dermot Connolly

Searching for foster moms, dads

Groups plan big outreach event at Ryan Woods

By Dermot Connolly

Seven Chicago-area social service agencies are working together to address the chronic need for foster parents that was exacerbated by the pandemic.

Known as the Chicagoland Foster Care Collaborative, the group is hosting the free Foster Care Information Picnic in partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Dan Ryan Woods picnic grove 3, just east of 83rd and Western.

The picnic is open to anyone considering fostering or adopting children, as well as those who would just like to learn about fostering. A presentation at 11 a.m. will provide information on what is involved in the licensing process. A panel of experienced foster parents and agency representatives will be on hand to answer questions.

GSWNH OliviaDelGuidice 082721

Olivia DelGiudice, program administrator for Kaleidoscope, points to the foster care agency’s motto depicted in a painting done by a foster child. –Greater Southwest News-Herald Photo by Dermot Connolly

Outdoor activities planned for kids and families include a hotdog lunch and refreshments, kite-making, face-painting, archery and free raffles. A DJ will provide music.

Admission is free but space is limited, so reservations are recommended. The Forest Preserves of Cook County is accepting them online through eventbrite.com at tinyurl.com/Foster2021.

“It’s designed to be a one-stop shop. We want people to walk away with a lot of good information and have fun,” said Olivia DelGiudice, program administrator for Kaleidoscope, the child-welfare agency that spearheaded the joint project.

The other members of the coalition are Lawrence Hall, Hephzibah, Kids Above All, Little City Lutheran Social Services and UCAN. The private non-profits all contract with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to provide placement and services for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. They will have individual information booths at the event, so prospective foster parents can get to know more about them to see which might be the right fit. As Kaleidoscope officials explained, all foster parents have to meet certain state requirements and training, such as being at least 21 years old and having 40 hours of DCFS training. But agencies can add requirements, depending on their focus.

The coalition had worked together in the past on various projects, and Kaleidoscope officials reached out to the others again after receiving a $100,000 grant from Impact Chicago in 2019 to attract and retain foster parents.

The first year, the agency nearly met its goal of recruiting 20 new foster parents, but because of the pandemic, numbers fell.

“It has been a crisis prior to the pandemic. There was a huge shortage (of foster parents) already and the pandemic made it worse. There is a backlog of kids sitting in residential centers and hospitals, (waiting for home placement),” said Kathy Grzelak, executive director of Kaleidoscope, citing the difficulty of “recruiting by Zoom. Since its foundation in 1973, Kaleidoscope has focused on serving children with specialized needs due to traumatic experiences. Because of that specialty, and the fact that many clients are teenagers, her agency asks that foster parents be at least 25 years old.

“Just like as a state and as a country, we have taken a step backward,’’ she continued. According to the most recent statistics she provided from DCFS, there are currently 21,371 youths in care with the state agency. She said there were 200,000 calls to the DCFS hotline for the fiscal year that ended June 30. That number was actually down from 250,000 the previous year, which she said may be due to children doing remote learning during the pandemic so teachers may not have noticed problems they otherwise would.

The usual 6-month timeframe for licensing foster parents became longer during the pandemic, in part because home visits and medical exams had to be postponed. In addition to being unable to recruit new foster parents, some decided not to accept any children because of the health concerns.

Kaleidoscope alone serves about 800 youths per year, and the concern is that the numbers will increase with children back in school.

“The majority of our foster parents are on the South and Southwest Sides,” noted Del Giudice. The DCFS statistics are broken down by ZIP code, and indeed one of the largest numbers of children in foster care—246–is found in 60620, encompassing the Auburn Gresham and Brainerd neighborhoods just east of Dan Ryan Woods.

Another area with a relatively large number of foster children, 124, is 60629, which includes West Lawn and Chicago Lawn. This compares to the 32 registered in Oak Lawn, and 41 in Orland Park.

“There are a lot of negative stereotypes about foster parents we want to dispel (such as the stare stipends they receive). Nobody is getting rich being a foster parent. But they shouldn’t get poor either,” said DelGiudice. She explained, for instance, that foster children “in care” will have health insurance provided by the state so foster parents do not have to bear that added expense.

Grzelak said agencies such as hers help foster parents navigate the system. Kaleidoscope also has a mentoring program in which experienced foster parents advise newcomers.

“It is hard for any parent to navigate the system. It is a part-time job. We also need families who want to think about helping the family the child was removed from. We owe it to them,” said Grzelak.

Local News

Peggy Zabicki

The young are often our brightest light

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 As summer approaches, we face the discouraging reality of what our neighborhood and our city have become. Carjackings, shootings, dangerous drag racers, assaults and robberies happen every single day. Will things get worse as the weather gets warmer? It is hard to stay positive. Much…

Kathy Headley

Senior linksters headed for Marquette Park

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Registration is now open for the 39th Senior Amateur Golf Championship at Marquette Park. The event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26. Fingers crossed that it does not pour rain on those dates like last…

--Greater Southwest News-Herald photos by Mary Stanek

Plants, books blooming at Peck School

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” ― Albert Einstein. Thanks to the parents and teachers of Peck School, the location of the library is at the Peck Panther…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Girls Soccer: De La Salle tops Bremen for program’s first regional title

By Steve Millar Correspondent De La Salle coach Carlos Nunez has seen his teams come up a bit short in the postseason repeatedly over the years. The Meteors had never won a regional championship in girls soccer. Until this year, that is. “I’ve been in every single one that we’ve lost in,” Nunez said. “We’ve…

Mallory Pugh, middle, moves the ball during the preseason. She played her first NWSL game Sunday and had two goals and an assist. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro soccer report: Pugh tallies twice return in Red Stars’ win over Orlando

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Mallory Pugh gave a sample of what could be a big 2022 season when she scored four goals in the exhibition Challenge Cup series. But the Red Stars scoring threat missed the first two games of the NWSL season with an injury, and the team split decisions against Louisville and…

Screen Shot 2022-05-23 at 8.23.03 AM

New ward map OKed

Reflects Madigan’s power By Tim Hadac The City Council this week approved a new ward map that, among other things, will see all of Clearing and most of Garfield Ridge shifted to the 13th Ward. Midway International Airport also would shift from the 23rd Ward to the 13th. Monday’s 43-7 vote means the issue will…

Sandburg's Jeremy Johnson, the hero of a semifinal win over Homewood-Flossmoor, legs out a hit in a 6-3 loss to Lockport on Saturday at Ozinga Field. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: Sandburg takes 2nd at Bajenski tourney

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer The Sandburg baseball team has had more downs than ups this season. But the Eagles finished the regular season on a strong note with a run to second place at the Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament, which wrapped up May 21 at Ozinga Field in Crestwood. To get to the…

Sandburg's 3200 meter relay team of (left to right) Sean Marquardt Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Brock Rice ran the third-best time in the nation Thursday at Lockport and finished in second place. Photo courtesy of Sandburg High School.

Track Postseason Report: Sandburg boys 3200 relay records nation’s third-best time in 2022

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer How good was the competition in the boys track Class 3A Lockport Sectional in the 3200 meter relay? Sandburg’s relay team of Brock Rice, Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Sean Marquardt ran a time of 7:42.42, which tied for the third-best time in the nation in 2022. And that was…

Mary Stanek

Summer weather means ice cream

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 And just like that, it’s summer in Chicago! At least for the week of May 9. That means ice cream for our family. We started with black walnut during that hot week. The old-fashioned flavors are the…

Peggy Zabicki

Seeking answer to loose dog dilemma

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Happy May 20, dear readers. Today is National Rescue Dog Day. We are to recognize all the benefits of rescuing a dog and allowing it to adopt you into their lovable life. There are certainly a lot of dogs in our neighborhood that need rescuing. Every…

Neighbors

Nael Digital Ad2
AladdinsBanquets WebAd
Former lawmaker sentenced in bribery scheme

Former lawmaker sentenced in bribery scheme

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo was sentenced this week to nearly five years in prison for his role in a bribery scheme involving a state senator and one of Arroyo’s private lobbying clients who sought favorable legislation for the sweepstakes gambling industry. Arroyo, 67, is a…

Republican governor candidates on the issues

Republican governor candidates on the issues

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Abortion, January 6, Donald Trump, Critical Race Theory and whether Joe Biden is rightfully the president of the United States were the basis of questions asked to a field of six Republican candidates for Illinois governor Tuesday. A pair of debates took place on two stages…

CAPITOL RECAP: Republican candidates debate

CAPITOL RECAP: Republican candidates debate

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – The six Republican candidates for Illinois governor faced off Tuesday night in Chicago, albeit on two separate debate stages, hours after a shooting at a Texas elementary school that dominated a large portion of the debates. A scheduling conflict between two TV networks – WGN and NBC 5 –…

ANALYSIS: Illinois’ official U.S. census numbers have not changed

ANALYSIS: Illinois’ official U.S. census numbers have not changed

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday that he is asking President Joe Biden and the federal government to increase Illinois’ share of federal funding to reflect the results of a recent Census Bureau study showing the state was very likely undercounted in the 2020 census. The news…

GOP debate: Candidates address rising crime, Texas school shooting

GOP debate: Candidates address rising crime, Texas school shooting

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The six Republican candidates for Illinois governor faced off Tuesday night in Chicago, albeit on two separate debate stages, hours after a shooting at a Texas elementary school that dominated a large portion of the debates. A scheduling conflict between two TV networks – WGN and…

GOP Floor Leader Batinick ready to ‘pass the baton’

GOP Floor Leader Batinick ready to ‘pass the baton’

By GRACE KINNICUTT Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House Republican Floor Leader Mark Batinick, a self-described “policy guy,” came to Springfield with the goal of pushing good policy. A father of five who resides in Plainfield with his wife, Batinick said after eight years in the General Assembly, it was either time to…

Longtime lawmaker reflects on time in General Assembly, calls it ‘honor of lifetime’

Longtime lawmaker reflects on time in General Assembly, calls it ‘honor of lifetime’

By GRACE KINNICUTT Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – House Majority Leader Greg Harris, the number two Democrat in the Illinois House of Representatives, never imagined landing the role of state representative – or that he would leave office feeling that he has been successful at it. The first openly LGTBQ leader in Illinois History,…

11th contempt citation filed against DCFS director

11th contempt citation filed against DCFS director

By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – On Thursday afternoon, a Cook County judge found Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith in contempt of court for the 11th time for violating court orders to move children to proper placements. The 11-year-old girl at the center of the case has…

Criminal case against senior staff at state-run hospital dismissed

Criminal case against senior staff at state-run hospital dismissed

By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The official misconduct case against a Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center senior staff member was dismissed on Thursday. Union County State’s Attorney Tyler Tripp dropped the charges, related to a cover-up of abuse at the state-run facility, against Choate’s quality assurance manager Gary Goins. The…

ANALYSIS: Fuel retailers sue over ‘compelled speech’ at the gas pump

ANALYSIS: Fuel retailers sue over ‘compelled speech’ at the gas pump

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] “As of July 1, 2022, the State of Illinois has suspended the inflation adjustment to the motor fuel tax through December 31, 2022. The price on this pump should reflect the suspension of the tax increase.” Those two sentences may be coming to a gas pump near you…

CRR NH Prusak Roofing House Ad
CRR NH Remax Villegas House Ad