Whereas, the Board of Health and Welfare of the Northern Illinois Conference, meeting February 22, 1979 ratified a Covenant–United Voices for Children; and whereas, the board recommends ratification by the Annual Conference; therefore, be It Resolved, that the Northern Illinois Conference ratify the following Covenant:


Between the Northern Illinois Conference and its Licensed Child Welfare Agencies


The Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church sponsors three agencies whose primary identification is as licensed child welfare agencies. These are Methodist Youth Services, Rosecrance Memorial Homes, and Lake Bluff/Chicago Homes for Children. Although they represent a wide variety of institutional and no-institutional services to children and families, they have much in common, and are committed to increasing cooperation and coordination. It is hoped that a clarification of roles and relationships among the three agencies and the Annual Conference would effect a more productive ministry to children and families. Since all three child welfare agencies are attempting to implement the mission of the Conference as they reach out to serve children, it is their desire to be more effective instruments of outreach for the Conference and the local churches.


Although an official name would have to be chosen if a cooperative effort is developed as a result of this proposal, the three administrators have agreed upon a name which will be utilized in the remainder of this document. The combined effort will be known as UNITED VOICES FOR CHILDREN (UVC).


The Assumptions of the Covenant


  1. Each of the child care agencies seeks to be the instrument of God in bringing healing and wholeness to children and their families. Each of the agencies wants its program to be so current, relevant, and effective that the people in our churches are proud to claim it as a Conference ministry.


  1. UVC is committed to high standards of care and services, it subscribes to such formalized standards as those of the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of Homes for Children, and the Certification Council of The United Methodist Church.


  1. Each party to the Covenant is making the commitment to offer something of service to other participants in the Covenant. We want to help each other.


  1. UVC seeks to discover innovative ways in which our joint efforts may achieve things for children and families which would probably not be done as well or not at all if we continued to try to do them separately.


  1. There is a commitment to coordination and cooperation wherever possible to eliminate the duplication of effort, to make for more efficient utilization of resources, and to present a single, cooperative child welfare ministry to the Conference and its local churches.


  1. The participants in the Covenant recognize each other as mature and independent corporate not-for-profit entities Each agency has its own governing board. While articles of incorporation and by-laws make it clear that the agencies are related to the Annual Conference, the governance of each agency is invested in its own governing board,


  1. Child care agencies serve a constituency which has no franchise to speak for it in the secular world because children don’t vote. It is an assumption of this Covenant that the participants will be advocates for children in Northern Illinois. And where possible, participants in the Covenant will seek to extend that advocacy for children through the local churches of the Conference.


  1. The financial needs of one agency in the Covenant will become the concern of all participants of the Covenant. Over the past decade, voluntary funds available for ministries to children and youth have diminished. It is part of our Covenant to seek ways in which we can work together to reverse that trend. We agree that total dependence upon government funds for these ministries would eventually mean the end of them.


Action Areas Within the Covenant
  1. ADVOCACY. Among the three child care agencies, there will be an organized effort to communicate an adequate current review of the needs of children which call for social and legislative action. This will be communicated to the churches through the Conference newspaper and other communication efforts.


The Board of Health and Welfare Ministries and the Board of Church and Society will receive and act upon reports from UVC on behalf of children and families…when those reports call for social and legislative action.


  1. NEW SERVICES. The three agencies stand ready to receive recommendations from the Annual Conference or other sources which indicate the need for new services for children and families. They pledge the availability of their reservoir of experience in the field and their management skills to evaluate, conceptualize, and where indicated, implement needed new services. Wherever possible this matter will be approached as a combined planning effort with joint decisions about how to proceed.


Churches and agencies of the Annual Conference may look to the Covenant child care agencies to receive information, suggestions, and requests concerning unmet needs of children and families with the assurance that some action will be taken or recommended.


The Conference Board of Health and Welfare Ministries may look to the Covenant child care agencies for consultation and services with reference to emerging new services for children and families.


  1. CHILD ADVOCATE NETWORK. The systems and procedures of providing services for disadvantaged and troubled children in our society are extremely complex.

Developing a sound understanding of the problems in this area and building a base of support for responsive ministries is a tough challenge. In order to facilitate that process, a network of child advocates will be developed with one person so designated in each local church of the local conference. The Covenant child care agencies will develop a description of responsibilities, provide orientation, training, and a continued nurture for the child advocates. But the focus of their task will include: (a) becoming well informed about the existing services to children and families being offered by the Covenant agencies; (b) learning to recognize and communicate to others, the substance of unmet needs of children and families in their own communities as well as in the northern third of Illinois; (c) inform other members of the congregation of the unmet needs and the difficult problems faced by the children and families for whom these agencies offer services, as well as those for whom services really do not exist; (d) function as the communications link between the Covenant agencies and the local churches, ready to receive and pass on needed communication.


  1. A RESOURCE FOR PASTORS AND LOCAL CHURCHES. The three child care agencies covenant with the Annual Conference to provide a system in which the pastor of any local United Methodist Church would be able to call and receive help concerning a problem involving children and families. It might relate to a problem in parenting, juvenile delinquency, a court case, adoption, needed resources for the treatment of a child with a problem, parent education, preparation of youth leaders for working with troubled adolescents, consultation about day care services, or any other of a wide variety of problems concerning children and their families. The agencies pledge a response of helpfulness which might include the offering of a direct service, referral to a more appropriate agency in their own community, meeting with an individual or local group to pursue a problem, or some other action.


It is believed that the adoption of this plan may effect the enrichment and increase of the ministries to children and families now being offered by the Northern Illinois Conference, Local churches will be more responsive to a well conceived joint effort. It will mean better stewardship of each agency’s resources. It will multiply the effect of our ministry for children on the elements of society around us.


There will be specific questions which cannot be answered on the basis of this document. Those specifics and the plan of implementation will have to be developed in a joint effort of the administrators and the board members of the participating agencies.

Board of Health and Welfare Ministries

Robert G. Burkhart, Chairperson


Adopted Tuesday evening, June 5.




(1979 Journal and Year Book Volume II – Resource Book For Local Churches –

June 3-6, 1979 140th Annual Session – Northern Illinois University DeKalb, Illinois)