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CHAMPAIGN – May is Foster Parent Appreciation Month, and State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is extending his appreciation to those who help enhance the lives of children and youth in foster care, as well as encouraging community members to consider becoming a foster parent.

“May is a great time to recognize the role foster parents play by providing safe havens and stable homes for our youth in need,” Bennett said. “Please take a moment to thank the foster families in our community for a job well done and consider making the commitment yourself to foster a child in need.”

Today, there are just over 21,000 youth living in foster care in the state. Of that number, 8,200 are living with foster families, 11,300 with relatives, and 1,200 in group homes and institutions. The need for foster parents is growing, and there are many types of foster care, including traditional care, emergency/shelter care, medical/therapeutic care, relative/kinship care, respite/short-term care, and tribal care. 

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pexels photo 256468SPRINGFIELD – To help children and families build savings and open the door to college, Senate Higher Education Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced a measure through the committee Tuesday to improve the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program.

“This program gives families the opportunity to start planning for higher education from day one,” Bennett said. “In addition to giving these families a head start on college savings, this legislation gives the Illinois treasurer the necessary tools to implement the program.”

In 2019, the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program, established as part of the Illinois treasurer’s existing Bright Start and Bright Directions programs, was signed into law. Under this law, the treasurer will automatically deposit $50 into a college savings account for every child born or adopted in Illinois after Dec. 31, 2020.

Bennett’s legislation requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide the treasurer with information on recent births and adoptions in Illinois for the purpose of enrolling children in the program beginning in 2021. Additionally, the legislation requires the Illinois Department of Revenue to provide the treasurer with information on tax filers claiming dependents or the adoption tax credit for the purpose of enrolling children in the program.

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SPRINGFIELD – To raise awareness and help improve mental health among young adults and middle school students, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is sponsoring legislation that would require school districts to provide contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line on student identification cards.

“We have great services available to help students who may be struggling,” Bennett said. “Printing this information on student ID cards means the hotline number is always close at hand, and more importantly, can be used as a lifeline for children and their families.”

The legislation, an initiative of the Illinois Education Association, would require the contact information for national crisis hotlines specializing in domestic violence, sexual assault and suicide to be printed on identification badges issued to public middle and high school students in Illinois. School districts that do not issue student IDs would instead be required to publish the information on their websites.

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Slow down red banner traffic sign on the road with car in background. Road slow down for safe concept.CHAMPAIGN – As the construction season gets underway, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is recognizing Work Zone Awareness Week through Friday, April 30, and urges drivers to slow down and pay attention in work zones.

“Our road workers should be able to do their jobs safely, and this week serves as a reminder that we all must work together by following the rules of the road and staying alert when driving to prevent tragedies,” Bennett said. 

In 2019, the most recent year statistics are available, 842 people were killed and 39,100 injured in work zone crashes nationally. Illinois averages 6,400 crashes in work zones each year, resulting in 1,700 injuries and 34 deaths. More than 9 out of 10 deaths are someone other than a worker, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

“Seeing orange is a powerful reminder that all crashes, injuries and deaths, not just those in work zones, are almost always avoidable,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “We are grateful to the organizations that are taking part in this effort to ‘Go Orange’ and help IDOT and its partners drive the number of fatalities to the only acceptable number – zero.”

For more information on Work Zone Awareness Week, visit IDOT’s Work Zone page.

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