State’s child support agency launches book drive to promote family togetherness

Child Support Awareness Month encourages HFS employees and Illinois residents to donate books and money to encourage reading

information provided by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (August 23, 2019) – To focus positive attention on the importance of families and child support, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has launched a book drive during Child Support Awareness Month this August.

“Child support is about more than money,” said Theresa Eagleson, director of HFS. “Family togetherness is vital for a healthy childhood, and reading as a family is one of the best ways to help bring this about.”

Employees at HFS offices throughout the state are donating books and money to the book drive, which will continue through the month. Donations will then be distributed to families through two respected nonprofit organizations. The department encourages Illinois residents to also participate by dropping books off at one of the sites or donating directly to the organizations.

The two nonprofits that will be distributing the books are Bernie’s Book Bank and Reach Out and Read.

Bernie’s Book Bank distributes quality children’s books to at-risk children throughout Chicagoland, delivering more than 15.8 million since 2009. Their goal is to empower at-risk children, from birth through sixth grade, to read their way to a better life.

To donate to Bernie’s Book Bank, go to www.berniesbookbank.org/invest-in-children

Reach Out and Read is a statewide program that is part of the American Academy of Pediatrics, providing books to new parents and encouraging them to read to their children.

For Reach Out and Read, visit reachoutandreadil.networkforgood.com

HFS maintains book drop-off bins at all of its Child Support sites throughout Illinois, located in Aurora, Collinsville, Champaign, south Chicago, the Chicago Loop, Joliet, Marion, Rockford, and Springfield. The main HFS office in Springfield also offers a drop-off bin.

The department has chosen a service project every year for National Child Support Awareness Month. The efforts are helpful in raising awareness about the importance and benefits of ensuring that child support is provided effectively.

Child support has been shown in studies to reduce poverty. It supports family self-sufficiency, reduces public spending, and increases the involvement of non-custodial parents in children’s lives. It contributes to improvements in all aspects of their lives.

Research shows that child support has positive benefits on the cognitive and educational outcomes of children. It accounts for about 16% of the family income. For families whose income is below the poverty level, child support represents about 50% of the family income.

In Illinois, HFS provides child support services to more than 440,000 families. These services range from helping parents establish paternity to establishing a fair child support. The services are available to anyone needing them, regardless of economic status.

In the state fiscal year that just ended, more than $1.3 billion in child support was collected and disbursed.

Illinois encourages parents to apply for the free services offered by HFS. They can be explored at www.childsupport.illinois.gov.

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