The Catholic Charities agencies of Illinois are trying to meet societyâ€™s needs â€œin a different wayâ€ in their first year without the state contracts that supported their adoption and foster care services.
â€œItâ€™s been an interesting year,â€ Robert Gilligan, Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, told CNA Oct. 17. He said agencies are â€œcontinuing to adapt very well.â€
The agencies are â€œsmallerâ€ but are â€œcontinuing to try to meet the needs of the most poor and vulnerable in our midst.â€
Last year Illinois Catholic Charities were forced to close their adoption and foster care programs.
In July 2011 the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ended the contracts under the stateâ€™s new civil unions bill. The department said the agenciesâ€™ practice of placing children only with married couples discriminated against unmarried and homosexual couples. Lawsuits and legislative efforts attempting to preserve the decades-old collaboration between the Catholic agencies and the government failed.
The state contracts with the Catholic agencies totaled over $30 million annually and helped care for about 2,000 foster children.
The contractsâ€™ end had major consequences.
Catholic Social Services, the Catholic Charities agency in the Diocese of Belleville, split from the diocese to become Christian Social Services. It now accepts couples in civil unions as foster parents.
Catholic Charities of Peoria, which received $14.8 million of its $24 million budget from the state, went from nearly 400 employees to fewer than 20. Most of its employees left to work for the Center for Youth and Family Solutions, which took over the foster care cases of nearly 1,000 children.
Peoriaâ€™s Catholic Charities is restructuring to operate without any funding from the state. [More]