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Peoria Diocese quits court fight over civil unions

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

Reporting by Alex Rusciano of WCBU was used in this report.

Updated at 5:08 p.m. with Associated Press information regarding appeal.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria is withdrawing its fight to regain state-funded social service contracts.  A circuit judge in Springfield recently ruled that the State Department of Children and Family Services can cancel its adoption and foster care contracts with Catholic Charities.  

The Peoria diocese says that DCFS is working with a new non-profit group called the Center For Youth and Family Solutions.  DCFS spokesperson Kendall Marlowe says the transition to the new entity will not result in any reduction in foster-care services.

“It does not involve any reduction in employment," Marlowe said. "It is purely a matter of transferring the work on these cases from one contracted agency to another contracted agency.  And the Center For Youth and Family Solutions is stepping forward to take-on the caseload that had been handled by Catholic Charities of Peoria.”

Marlowe says the Peoria-based Center For Youth and Family Solutions will absorb about 1,000 foster care cases.  He says many of the same case workers with Catholic Charities of Peoria will likely work for the new non-profit group after the change.  They say the transition is expected to take place in February of next year.

Catholic Charities affiliated with the Joliet, Springfield and Belleville dioceses filed an appeal Tuesday of a Sangamon County judge's ruling siding with the state of Illinois. The charities wish to continue their state contracts, while referring unmarried couples who want to be adoptive or foster parents to other agencies.

The state says that's discriminatory, a violation of the civil unions law.

Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Diocese says the decision to withdraw from the litigation and from providing state-funded social services was not made lightly.