Illinois Department of Children and Family Services African American Advisory Council reviews Fatherhood Resource Fair
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services African American Advisory Council met April 21.
The State African American Employment Plan is designed to provide increased access to state employment for African Americans and will help to build a governmental workforce that more accurately reflects the diversity of our great state.
Here are the meeting minutes as provided by the African American Advisory Council:
Shirley Barsh, Rhonda Laye, Mike Burns, Tracy Marshall, Bremen Campbell, Veronica Mattison, Fayette Coleman-Gill, Kilonzo Musau, Rochelle Crump, Jataun Rollins, Millie Donelson, Keith Smith, Renee Heard, Audrey Sneed-Morton, Jacqueline Johnson. Lori Welcher-Evans,
James Robinson (JR)
The meeting was officially called to order by Vice-Chair, Tracy Marshall at 10:05 am.
ORDER OF MEETING:
REVIEW OF MINUTES:
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT & PERMANENCY ENHANCEMENT PROJECT (PEP):
Michael Burns showed council members a video of an Action Team taking place in the Southern Region. A decision was made on what t-shirts would be ordered for all council members.
Bremen reported that he will get the newsletter to the printer next week and will ask JR to assist with the pictures, as a disc is needed. Bremen reported that an updated picture of Tracy and Robin is needed. Mike will work with Bremen on getting a disc.
AFRICAN AMERICAN SERVICES:
Rochelle reported that the Diversity and Recruitment Committee is currently working on the grading issue at CMS and they are attempting to advocate for people to grade per agency. Across the board collectively, employment recruitment will be done with DHS, DCFS, etc. Posters are being worked on about what a child and family should look like. There is a tendency for children and families of Hispanic descent to normally be displayed. There are African American children in the system as well.
Rochelle related that this issue is being looked at by Affirmative Action and the Transformation team.
IFA RESOURCE FAIR:
Several council members, Jacqueline, Jataun and Tracy provided positive feedback about the Fatherhood Resource Fair that was held on Friday,
April 8th at Metropolitan Family Services. Council members reported that the fair was nice, well organized, well supported by vendors, and was well received. The focus next year will be to work hard to improve the attendance amongst fathers. Tracy related that she had invited two of her fathers from her current case load, however, they were a no show.
Several council members were in attendance and assisted with the fair.
Tracy also related that Commissioner Boykin did a great job in speaking and it was great that he talked about some of his initiatives.
JR reported that he presented to the new hire class in Aurora. JR reported all the pictures from the Council Christmas party are now on the shared drive. Anyone council member needing access to the shared drive will need to forward their log-in ID to Bremen. Rhonda volunteered to become a member of the training committee. JR inquired if a representative from the Southern and Central Region could also volunteer to become members of this committee.
STATUS REPORT-HOST FAMILIES/CARE PACKAGES:
Shirley reported that she spoke with student Briana and she confirmed that she received the care package from the council. Briana related that she is doing well and is preparing for final exams. Briana is $8,000 in debt and is worried about not being able to attend school next year. She wants to become a citizen of Tennessee in order to get the in state tuition rate which would be cheaper, however, she is ward of the state. Shirley reported that Briana’s worker is new and there may be a language barrier. Tracy related that the worker can reach out to either Patricia Palmer or Laura Gutierrez. Shirley reported that she did confirm Briana’s address.
No new inquiries.
Rhonda reported that she sent a list of current legislative activities to both Jere and Mike. All council members received a copy at today’s meeting.
FOSTER HOME RECRUITMENT & STATEWIDE STRATEGY:
Jataun reported that there have been a few changes with Resource & Recruitment and will be driven by the new regional transformation.
Several activities include Breaking Bread with House of Representative Lashawn Ford, building a coalition of African American male recruitment initiative, membership, vocational and educational supports in process; a strategic plan for Spanish Speaking foster homes is being developed and charged to develop a cadre of homes for LGBTQ recruitment with supportive services; autism taskforce is in progress with the Training Department to develop an Autism Training Curriculum; emergency foster care is in process and has received a number of referrals from POS and DCFS for eligibility to participate; a Community of Promise (faith based initiative is on the table again) to help spearhead commitments from faith based institutions to support children, families and caretakers with foster parents groups or ministries; Therapeutic Foster care is in process; and Quality Parenting Initiative (pilot) is in process in East St. Louis, Northern Region and Cook. Spanish speaking orientations are going on now for people who would like to foster parents and are held twice per month.
Jataun completed a WBEZ interview on foster parents needs in Illinois in late February/earl May with Communications as well as worked on a work group with Licensing and finished a Power point presentation with Licensing to help screen foster parents and orient them to the application process. Each region has a different plan for how recruitment will be done. Implementation will take place on July 1st. Initially, POS was not a part of the plan for emergency foster care. There are only 50 slots, half POS and the other half is for DCFS. Videos will run in collaboration with the Communications Department to highlight the value in fostering adolescent youth.
Fayette reported that the last subcommittee meeting was held on 4-11-16. There are not enough Hispanic families, looking to utilize more fictive kin for placements. The committee is in the process of reviewing the BH consent decree and a paper will be set up to be forwarded to the Director. The focus is on the recruitment of staff, as there is very limited staff to work in identifying foster homes. The committee will be requesting a meeting with Denice Murray. Another identified issue is the retention of kids in foster homes. Fayette related that the next sub-committee meeting is scheduled to take place on 4-25-16 at 1921 S. Indiana at 9:30am on the 2nd floor. The next Joint committee meeting (all 4 Councils) is June 15, 2016 at 12:00pm. The African American Council will meet at 10:00am on June 15th.
This agenda item was tabled.
The conference will take place on Friday, June 3, 2016 in Bloomington, Illinois at Illinois State University’s Alumni Center located 1101 N. Main Street. The theme of the conference this year is “Focusing on Interests, Skills, and Talents along the Pathway to Permanency for African American Youth”. There will be no lodging reimbursement or mileage reimbursement. The keynote speaker is Kashif. The Master of Ceremony will be Clifford Benson. The Director has contributed $5,000.00 towards this year’s conference. Veronica and Fayette are working on securing items for the giveaway bags for the conference. Carole and Cheryl have secured 150 bags and pens, is in the process of asking for other sponsors and will purchase bottles of water. Veronica is also expecting items from a few different colleges as well as some monetary donations from some businesses. Bridgette Glickman will be sought to see if there are any items available to put into the bags. There will be two mega workshops. Lori will reach out to Shakila Stewart to see if she would be willing to one of the panelists. Ms. Stewart grew up in foster care. Each council member is asked to recruit at least 10 people to attend the conference. The council is attempting to get at least 25 youth registered for the conference.
Rochelle made a suggestion for council members to donate gift cards for the bags.
- Council members looked at samples of T-shirts. T-shirts will be worn the day before the conference takes place.
- Real Talk - Jataun asked for a committee so “Real Talk” can occur again this year. Fayette and Tracy suggested Hamilton Park as possible venue. The date will be in July or August. The council will get POS involved. Sponsorship will be secured. Rodney J. Walker is a former ward of the state and he wrote a book in which Jataun circulated during the meeting. A sign-up sheet was also circulated for committees.
- Audrey will reserve the conference room for the next meeting.
- Mike needs volunteers to participate in the March from Operation Push to Dusable Museum on Saturday, April 30th.
- A total of $135 was raised by council members and was given to Cheryl and her family. There are a few more council members who would like to donate.
- Veronica shared information inclusive of brochures and business cards on Fresh Start. This is a Plastic Surgery Foundation that gives children a fresh start in life.
- Robin Albritton and Diane Cottrell were excused from today’s meeting.
The meeting was officially adjourned at 2:00 p.m.