the Vision of the Founder of UVC
It was my privilege to have worked for the founder of United Voices for Children, the Rev. Coyd Taggart, who expressed his concern for the welfare of children and their families by organizing United Voices for Children (in 1978) while serving as the Executive Director of ChildServ, previously named the Lake Bluff Children’s Home.
Rev. Taggart believed that the Children’s Home at that time should be organized in such a way as to serve the needs of children and their families in their own neighborhoods, rather than just serve the children and youth placed in a children’s home. He believed that so many children and their families were not being adequately served by the services responsible for their care in the communities where they lived.
Out of this conviction, he motivated the Lake Bluff Children’s Home Board to use its financial resources to develop a community-based organization that would provide services to children and families-in-need in neighborhoods throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, with the purpose of reducing the number of children and youth who needed to be placed in a residential treatment facility.
Rev. Taggart also believed there was the need to create an organization that would work with the legislative and judicial levels of government to provide prevention-oriented legislation and services that would more adequately address the issues and needs of children and families throughout metro Chicago, the state of Illinois, and even at a national level. As a strong believer of our Methodist heritage, starting with John Wesley, Taggart asserted that we should be motivated to speak “truth-to-power” when we saw the needs of children and families not being served adequately by our legislative leaders.
So he invited Rosecrance, at that time a children’s home in Rockford, Illinois, Marcy-Newberry Center, a century-old community-based center established by the United Methodist Women of the Northern Illinois Conference, and Methodist Youth Services (now called MYSI) organized in the 1960s by the United Methodist Men of the Northern Illinois Conference to join the Lake-Bluff Children’s Home (later named ChildServ) in establishing United Voices for Children (UVC).
UVC, bringing together these four United Methodist-related child serving agencies, would focus on the needs and issues affecting the children and families in the area served by the Northern Illinois Conference. UVC would encourage the recruitment of child advocates in each United Methodist congregation and provide them with information on how they could more adequately serve the needs of children and families in their local communities as well as be strong advocates for legislation that would further benefit children and families throughout Illinois.
UVC’s early development was momentous. For several years, UVC organized busloads of local church advocates to go to Springfield to meet with their legislators advocating the passage of legislation related to children’s issues. Local legislators were also invited to local churches to discuss their views on children’s legislative issues.
In recent years, UVC has not been as engaged in public policy advocacy, but with its recent re-organization, I believe United Voices for Children is ready to again be a major force in organizing its members to champion the needs of children in Illinois. In closing, I want to again express my gratitude for the vision of Coyd Taggart and his effort to establish an organization that can work on behalf of all our children, providing an environment where they can more adequately develop into the fine adults God meant them to be.
The Rev. Mason Scholl is a Lifetime Honorary UVC Board Member.