UPDATE: Rockford Diocese ending foster care, adoption programs - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

UPDATE: Rockford Diocese ending foster care, adoption programs

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

58 workers are laid off after the Catholic Diocese of Rockford chooses to end all adoption and foster care services through catholic charities.

 It's in response to the Illinois legislature's failure to enact an amendment to the Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Unions Act, that would allow them to refer gay and unmarried couples to other agencies.

This announcement was a surprise, but some of the people laid off came to show support for the decision.

Leslie Montoya worked for a year serving children under the Diocese until Thursday morning when she found out she was laid off.

"My first thought was we work so hard for the children to have stability in their lives to have permanency and this is another thing that is going to be removed from their lives. A worker they've been working with several months possibly a few years and that person's just going to disappear."

Kelly Hendrickson is also unemployed now that Catholic Charities won't be offering state funded adoption or foster care services.

Hendrickson says, "At the end of the day it's about the children. I don't think people have taken into consideration the worry that's going to go through these children's minds."

Frank Vonch, director of Catholic Charities administration, explained the decision to fire the workers wasn't easy, but had to be done.

"This morning I had the very heartbreaking task of informing staff that are affected by this over 58 employees in our foster care and adoption programs as well as associated programs their professional services were no longer necessary due to our closure," Vonch says.

In a statement, the Civil Rights Agenda, an Illinois advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights said they are pleased the amendment is dead, but mindful that it is a sad day for the many foster families and parents involved in Catholic Charities.

The state's new Civil Unions law goes into effect June 1.

Catholic Charities in the Rockford Diocese handles approximately 350 foster family and adoption cases in 11 counties in northern Illinois.

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