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‘It’s gonna be a while before we go back’


Sports Editor Matt Kamp sits alone in the Intelligencer newsroom in downtown Edwardsville as he finishes a feature story on a local high school cross country runner. In practicing precaution, the newsroom has not been actively occupied since mid-March due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo credit: Tyler Pletsch)

Newspaper leaders face facts, stick with similar COVID-19 protocols

For Illinois Press Association

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – While newsrooms around the state might vary in the degree of their vigilance during the pandemic, all but one of the 10 newspapers that responded to a survey from the Illinois Press Association share a common, comforting thread: no positive COVID-19 cases among their staffers.

“We’ve been very blessed and very thankful,” said John Lampinen, senior vice president and editor of the Daily Herald.

There’s something to be said for making your own blessings. Whereas some newspapers have allowed reporters in the office, and some editors regularly work from the office, Daily Herald staffers are barred from the newsroom.

Lampinen, who joined the Daily Herald in the 1970s and has spent all but one of his years in the industry there, has set foot in the office only to retrieve items he absolutely needs. His first visit after Gov. JB Pritzker issued his March 20 stay-at-home order was eerie.

“It was kind of a weird feeling, and of course you add heightened tension to the chances the virus was out there,” he said. “If you ran into somebody you were almost spooked by it, wondering whether they had it.”

Lampinen said reporters need to keep up that mentality, to some degree.

“We operate as though anyone we encounter could be infected,” he said. “The health and safety of our staff takes precedence over anything else.”

Half an hour’s drive away – without traffic – the Chicago Tribune office has remained open, “but we have always encouraged people to [work from home] if they could,” Chicago Tribune Editor-in-Chief Colin McMahon wrote in his survey response, adding that the majority of the newsroom is working full-time from home.

“Anywhere from a handful of journalists to a dozen or so are in the office on any random day,” he continued. “We have protocols about socially distancing, mask-wearing and other precautions.”

Every newsroom’s circumstances are different, of course.

Weekly newspapers’ employees have almost universally continued reporting to the office, given their shoestring staffs, some of them boasting a solitary full-timer. In Jo Daviess County, where the 7-day rolling COVID-19 positive rate has hovered around 10 percent, the celebrated Galena Gazette experienced an outbreak in early October. Editor Hillary Dickerson and her husband Jay Dickerson – also the paper’s sales director – tested positive along with four co-workers. They’ve since recovered.

Whereas the rolling positivity rate was 7.1 percent through Oct. 17 in Cook County, it was 12.7 percent in Winnebago County, home to the Rockford Register Star, and 12.4 percent in Stephenson County, home to the Freeport Journal-Standard.

As a result, Mark Baldwin, executive director of both Gannett papers, has enforced a water-tight policy prohibiting staff from working at the office. He popped in for about half an hour one day in mid-October to pick up the snail mail, the first time he’d been there in about a month. He said the only other exceptions have been for tech issues.

“We’ve been relentless about keeping people safe,” he said. “There’s been no pressure on them to do anything but work from the house.”

Reporters from Block Club, a nonprofit that puts a hyper-local emphasis on coverage of Chicago’s unique, diverse neighborhoods, already predominantly worked remotely before the pandemic. Co-founder Shamus Toomey said reporters might be in the office once or twice a month.

They’re in there far less frequently now, although co-founders have popped in to grab needed supplies from the space they share with six other companies.

“We take turns collecting mail and sending it to each other – and watering plants,” Toomey said.

Many common-sense policies and safety practices are shared by every newspaper that responded to the survey. Reporters and photographers alike are required to wear masks in the field and maintain social distancing whenever possible. They’re advised to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after each interview or assignment.

“They also know that if they’re ever in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable about their safety, their health comes first, that it is more important than any individual assignment,” Lampinen said. “We talk about this a lot, and I can’t say enough about how proud and impressed I have been by the staff’s ability to turn on a dime in how we report the news in this new environment. They are such incredible people.”



Some policies less stringent

Chris Coates, Central Illinois editor for Lee Enterprises and the IPA’s 2019 editor of the year, can be found by a reporter or two, or photographers, a day or two each week in his office at The Pantagraph in Bloomington or his office at Decatur's Herald & Review.

He otherwise works remotely, but said he goes in occasionally “to make sure the newspaper’s OK and check in with things.”

He said photographers often work in the office, as well as reporters “if they need to file and they’re close to the building.”

Anyone entering the building must wear a mask and perform a self-assessment. Same goes for reporters at the Edwardsville Intelligencer who are covering events downtown, “a few yards from the office,” as Editor Brittany Johnson described it. She cited a Black Lives Matter protest the weekend of Oct. 17 as an example. She said there’s never more than two reporters in the office at any time, and that desks are set up at least 6 feet apart.

The Belleville News-Democrat, about 25 miles away, has a similar policy – no more than two in the office at a time, masks required, and reporters should be in the office only if they’re covering live events.

“They also are asked to maintain distance and disinfect the areas they use,” Senior Editor Todd Eschman said.

The BND team is living through particularly unique circumstances, having sold its Civil War-era building earlier this year with plans to move into its new, right-sized office a couple of blocks to the north.

“There was some anticipated upheaval even before the pandemic hit, and so we had a plan to move people and work remotely temporarily in the interim,” he said. “This has gone on much, much longer than we anticipated, of course, but I think that planning was an advantage.”

Then any prospects of anyone working the building came to a screeching halt when a frequent letter-writer on Oct. 16 made a threat to blow up the new building using fertilizer and dynamite, a threat Eschman described as “credible.” He said the office will be closed for the foreseeable future.


Gauging reporters’ comfort level

Both Johnson and Eschman emphasized checking in with reporters before and after their assignments to make sure they’re comfortable with where they’re going and where they’ve just been.

“Outside the newsroom, we're very careful about where we send reporters and are sensitive and accommodating to their individual concerns,” Eschman wrote in the survey. “We're going to BLM demonstrations, for example, but making arrangements to speak to organizers in advance and/or away from the crowds while observing from safer distances. If a reporter is uncomfortable with the size of the crowd or feels their space is being encroached, we encourage them to act on their personal judgement and sense of well-being.”

Baldwin is all too familiar with protest coverage in Rockford, “a city fraught with racial tension,” in his words. He’s grateful to Gannett for providing all the safety gear reporters and photographers need.

“We’ve covered the protests very, very intensely,” Baldwin said. “We made darn sure of two things: Don’t put yourself in danger, or get yourself between protestors and police. But also make darn sure you’re wearing your mask, that you’ve got plenty of hand sanitizer available, and everything else you might need.”

When President Donald Trump held a rally Oct. 17 with little to no social distancing a short drive from Rockford in Janesville, Wisconsin, Baldwin ultimately left it up to his reporter and photographer as to whether they’d cover the event in person.

“I’m not going to send you in harm’s way,” he said.

The reporter opted to insert content from a sister paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, into his story, while the photog covered the event in person.

“He very much wanted to go, and from a business standpoint, it made more sense for him to go. A gallery from a Trump rally was going to get more traffic than the text would,” Baldwin said.


‘We need to check in on each other as humans’

Several of the editors expressed in the survey and in interviews that among the opportunities to be seized amid the dramatic changes this year is a renewed focus on mental health. Any editor worth his salt is aware journalists will work hours they’re not clocking if somebody doesn’t stop them.

“We’ve been very, very strict with making sure people aren’t clocking in at crazy times,” Coates said. “Regular check-ins are really important.”

A certain level of attention to detail, if not perfectionism, is OK, Lampinen said. But there’s a line.

“Some reporters have to fight the temptation to return after hours to check the computer to touch up a story or get a head start on tomorrow or see what more they can do. Some of that’s probably natural and OK, but a lot of it can become debilitating.”

“Working remotely has made it particularly different for managers to separate their work life from their home life,” Baldwin said. “I’ve ordered people to take a day off. This job is mentally taxing. You’re not going to do anybody any good if you’re exhausted.”

Paying close attention to staff during video meetings and monitoring when people are logged in, active on email and clocking in and out can go a long way in protecting journalists from themselves.

“I can usually tell if something’s going off the rails, and reel it in,” Coates said.

Johnson said she’s re-examined her decision-making when assigning stories for the Intelligencer.

“The world is not going to wait,” she said. “There are people out there who are going to do what they think is best – whether it’s wearing a mask or not, social distancing or not. So we have to decide as a newsroom, when there’s an event, whether we cover that event or deliver that news.”

She said it’s crucial to take time away from the regular grind to ask reporters how they’re doing.

“The health and safety of our reporters is paramount,” Johnson said. “That’s not only physical, but it’s mental. It’s important to check in with the reporter afterward – not only how the assignment went, but how [they] feel.

“We need to check in on each other as humans, like you would with a friend.”

Lampinen said it’s more important than ever to tell staff they’re doing good work.

“Touching base, recognizing good work, giving staff members a respite from time to time, these always are important in a work situation,” Lampinen said. “They’ve become even more important in the isolated work situation the pandemic has created.”

Both Johnson and Lampinen said a newsroom can be energized simply by acknowledging the impact of the work it’s doing.

“We have to remember what we’re doing: educating the community,” Johnson said. “That invigorates us.”

“We’re reporting history,” Lampinen said. “The vast majority of people on our staff appreciate that we’re reporting for the greater good and helping the audience understand their risks and how we can mitigate their risks, and the politics that have developed.”


What’s been lost

Nearly all respondents to the survey agreed on the biggest thing journalists have lost while working remotely: each other.

“Even though I think a lot of us are introverts – that’s why we’re in a position to ask all the questions and have others answer – we like being part of the team and succeeding together,” he said. “The people who do this work are incredibly smart, incredibly passionate, and incredibly funny. We’re missing that.”

Every editor knows that bittersweet moment when a reporter ducks into his or her office while the editor is trying to edit a story or crunch budget numbers. Eschman misses being interrupted in the BND office.

“The ideas that arise from spur-of-the-moment conversation and reactions to live events is missing,” he said. “There is simply no replacement for the daily, live contact with colleagues in a newsroom, not just for communication, but for maintaining energy and enthusiasm.”

McMahon remarked on how many breakthroughs would typically happen immediately after an in-person staff meeting at the Tribune.

“The afterglow of a meeting is often where a lot of important work gets done as people follow up on what was said at the meeting,” he said. “That is gone. Cracks don’t get filled in.”

“Without working in a newsroom, the cross-pollination of ideas is hard to recreate,” Toomey said. “We try via Zoom and Slack, but it’s not the same.”

In terms of reporting, Lampinen said it’s hard enough to hold Chicago officials’ feet to the fire in person, let alone remotely.

“Frankly, [it’s] harder to monitor governments as closely as our watchdog obligations require,” Lampinen said. “How do we deal with those challenges?  There’s no magic. We try to make sure we recognize the pitfalls and we try to work harder to overcome them.”

Not being able to see a source’s face can make it difficult to capture emotion and convey it in a story. It can also limit a reporter’s agility in an interview.

“Reporting via phone, video conference, email, etc. impacts access, flavor, and photography, too,” Toomey wrote in his response.


What’s been gained

Coates said audiences have, however, become accustomed to getting their information, getting to know sources, and hearing stories via a video interview. That’s the case whether they’re watching a national network or a video interview the Bloomington Pantagraph posts on its website or pushes on social media.

“The weird discovery of this whole thing is that video conferencing has become the de facto way we handle our lives,” he said. “It’s opened up a whole new world to us, with the way we communicate, and the way we report. We’ve discovered we can be equally nimble.”

He said the newsroom’s decision-making process is more transparent.

“In some ways we communicate better with Google docs and Zoom meetings,” he said. “Our 2 p.m. meetings used to be independent huddles.”

Eschman said working remotely has exposed News-Democrat reporters’ strengths and weaknesses.

“Who can work independently, who can't, who will step up and lead, who needs a hand to hold?” he said.

“That's powerful information. Generally, the drudgery of pandemic coverage has really focused our reporters to high utility, reader-driven topics. We're doing some of our best explanatory journalism at the moment.”

Working from home and covering virtual meetings have also given newsrooms a logistic boost. No one misses grinding their teeth while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic first thing in the morning.

“The cut in commute time is a big benefit for people personally, and our experience suggests that it not only helps everyone’s mood but it has helped increase productivity, too,” Lampinen said.

Toomey said his reporters can now cover multiple meetings, in multiple neighborhoods Block Club covers, in the same night. But there’s a caveat.

“Access to public officials at these meetings is obviously slashed, so post-meeting follow-up questions are much tougher,” he said.

Johnson said the pandemic has provided an opportunity for journalists to “pull back the curtain” and connect with the greater Edwardsville community that’s going through the same things, being stuck indoors and facing social isolation.

Because Daily Herald readers are stuck at home, Lampinen said his staff has been hearing from them more often.

“That’s a huge benefit, one that helps strengthen our coverage but also our engagement with our readers,” he said. “I think that engagement is stronger now than ever. And we want to find ways to make that continue even after the pandemic fades.”


What’s on the horizon

Psychologists, propped up by experts’ predictions of another increase in deaths involving COVID-19 by year’s end, have warned we’re approaching a “long, dark winter,” in the words of Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto.

As a result, no one who responded to the survey is entertaining the thought of staff returning to the newsroom this year. Some companies have established Jan. 1, 2021, as when they’ll re-evaluate the feasibility of a return.

The Chicago Tribune has “no plans for a formal return to work process until some time in 2021,” McMahon wrote.

“It’s not any safer to be working together now than it was in March,” Toomey said.

In late-summer, Gannett laid out guidelines on when staff could safely return to the office. In a companywide editors call Oct. 23, it was made clear “any return to the office is going to be voluntary,” Baldwin said.

Despite journalists’ ingrained practice of going toward danger in order to describe it and warn readers not to, Baldwin said the fact that no one in his shop has tested positive speaks to reporters’ prudent decisions and attention to safety.

“Let’s face it: We as news people live in a world of facts, information, and truths,” Baldwin said. “We’re not deniers. We believe the data and science. It stands to reason that news folks would take the necessary precautions.”

With the convergence of the again-surging pandemic and cold and flu season, Baldwin said the quiet part out loud.

“It’s gonna be a while before we go back.”


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Press Releases

Illinois State Bar Association announces
Rural Practice Fellowship Program fellows

May 6, 2021
CONTACT: Rhys Saunders, senior manager of communications


Editors: Please note local interest.

The Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) is pleased to announce the names of the 14 Fellows selected to participate in the 2021 Rural Practice Fellowship Program, which is designed to meet the critical need of providing access to justice for those living in rural areas with a declining lawyer population.

“We were extremely pleased with the overwhelming response to this program from throughout the state of Illinois,” said ISBA President Dennis J. Orsey. “The demand far exceeded our first-year expectations.”

The ISBA Special Committee on the Rural Practice Initiative created two fellowship programs to address the issue.

The Rural Practice Summer Fellows Program connects law students with rural practitioners to give them experience working in rural communities before they leave law school. The program includes a $5,000 fellowship stipend and mentoring.

The Rural Practice Associate Fellows Program places graduating law students and new attorneys as permanent associates with rural practitioners. The program includes a $5,000 stipend at the beginning of employment, and an additional $5,000 stipend if the associate is still working for the same firm after one year.

2021 Summer Fellows:

Fellow: Jacquelin Pulak (Northern Illinois University College of Law)
Firm: Berger Law Firm, LLC, Byron, Illinois (Ogle County)

Fellow: Alex Pullen (University of Illinois College of Law)
Firm: McGrath Law Office, P.C., Mackinaw, Illinois (Tazewell County)

Fellow: Emily Wiedeman (Loyola University Chicago School of Law)
Firm: Heller, Holmes & Associates, P.C., Mattoon, Illinois (Coles County)

Fellow: Avery Lubbes (Saint Louis University School of Law)
Firm: Stumpf & Gutknecht, P.C., Columbia, Illinois (Monroe County)

2021 Associate Fellows:

Fellow: Paul Loss Dunham (University of Illinois)
Firm: Becker Law Office, Genoa, Illinois (DeKalb County)

Fellow: Glenn Hoskin (Loyola University Chicago)
Firm: Tobin & Ramon, Belvidere, Illinois (Boone County)

Fellow: Tristyn Criswell (Northern Illinois University)
Firm: The Cosentino Law Firm, St. Charles, Illinois (DeKalb County)

Fellow: Staci Vazquez (Northern Illinois University)
Firm: Malmquist, Geiger & Durkee LLC, Morris, Illinois (Grundy County)

Fellow: Elizabeth Reynolds (Southern Illinois University)
Firm: Jacob J. Frost, Attorney at Law, Spring Valley, Illinois (Bureau County)

Fellow: Tiffany Ketchum (Southern Illinois University)
Firm: Vawter Law Ltd., Macomb, Illinois (McDonough County)

Fellow: Megan Ryan (University of Mississippi)
Firm: Rammelkamp Bradney, P.C., Jacksonville, Illinois (Morgan County)

Fellow: Jacob Schlosser (Saint Louis University)
Firm: Woods & Bates, P.C., Lincoln, Illinois (Logan County)

Fellow: Edward Siemer (Saint Louis University)
Firm: McDevitt, Osteen, Chojnicki & Deters, LLC, Effingham, Illinois (Effingham County)

Fellow: Parker Louis Seely (Saint Louis University)
Firm: Bigham, Tanner & Foster, Pinckneyville, Illinois (Perry County)

# # #




Serving people with disabilities in Illinois

April 27, 2021
CONTACT: John Herring, executive director, Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living
101 W. Old State Capitol Plaza
Suite 501
Springfield, IL 62701


Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living is a network of people with various disabilities who connect statewide. The 22 Centers for Independent Living that make up INCIL share information, skills and experiences. While supporting each other, barriers to inclusion are removed and Independence achieved. People acquire methods to remain in their home and many financially trapped in nursing facilities are freed.

INCIL has been connecting people who have disabilities statewide since 1995. It is the hub for Independent Living services, while monitoring and educating our state about disability issues. All these organizations are “consumer controlled” run by and for people with disabilities. Each center is responsive to their communities’ needs and INCIL brings people together in this network of cross disability purpose with strength from unity. For more information call 217-525-1308 or go to INCIL.org.





Alliance For Climate Education launches
billboard campaign to grow support for passing
the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA)


April 21, 2021
CONTACT: Leah Qusba, executive director, Alliance For Climate Education (ACE)


CHICAGO – This week, the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) is launching a billboard campaign to create awareness about the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) and mobilize Illinoisans to take action to demand that the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pritzker pass CEJA in 2021. As we face the dual crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change driven by fossil fuel consumption, it is a critical moment to pass CEJA to help Illinois get positioned for the renewable energy revolution and to bring thousands of clean jobs to Illinois residents.

ACE’s mix of digital and vinyl billboards have been placed in prominent neighborhood and highway locations in the Chicago and Springfield areas, encouraging passersby to take action by going to: PassCEJA.com or “Text CEJA to 42108”. A total of 11 billboards – seven billboards in the Chicago area and four in Springfield – are now viewable.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) is a comprehensive climate and energy bill that centers on equity and puts Illinois on track to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Here’s how passing CEJA will make Illinois a leader in the just transition to renewable energy:

● Creates a path for 100% renewable energy in IL (17,000 MW solar/6,300 MW wind)
● Directs resources and support to BIPOC energy sector workers and contractors
● Invests $2B in clean energy for BIPOC, low income,and environmental justice communities
● Provides $50M/yr in rate relief to low-income consumers
● Puts Illinoisans to work building and maintaining clean energy infrastructure
● Saves consumers $700M/yr through expansions of electric and gas energy efficiency programs
● Supports electrifying the equivalent of 1.2M vehicles by 2030 including public transit & fleets
● Provides electric vehicle (EV) rebates and EV access for low-income communities
● Makes utility profits contingent upon making the grid more affordable, clean, and equitable

The billboards will be visible through the month of April and into early May, mobilizing support for passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) while April “Earth Day” month brings our public attention to the climate crisis and opportunities for taking action to ensure a livable planet for generations to come.


More About Alliance for Climate Education (ACE): ACE’s mission is to educate young people about the science of climate change and empower them to take action. We believe that young people have the power to tip the scales toward just climate solutions that match the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. ACE’s strength is in our work at the intersection of youth, climate, and democracy, taking an integrated approach across all of our programs to empower young people to become effective civic engagement and climate advocacy leaders.

A sample of the billboard creative:





Illinois Farm Bureau to fund Illinois Press Foundation grants to student journalism programs


April 16, 2021


Contact: Jeff Rogers, Illinois Press Foundation director

217-241-1300, ext. 286



SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Farm Bureau will be the financial sponsor of this year’s Illinois Press Foundation mini-grants program that assists existing media programs at public and private high schools throughout the state.


Selected schools receive grants of up to $1,500 from the Illinois Press Foundation to pay for a computer, software or other equipment needed for a high school’s student media program to produce print or online newspapers. School media programs will be receiving application information Monday, with requests due on or before May 14. Funds or equipment will be received in September.


“We’re excited to have Illinois Farm Bureau as a partner in this effort,” Illinois Press Foundation Director Jeff Rogers said. “Both of our organizations feel passionate about the opportunity to help young journalist and student news organizations.”


The mini-grants program will provide funding or equipment to as many as 15 high school media programs.


“Illinois Farm Bureau is really excited to be a part of program that will assist Illinois high school students in developing their writing and reporting skills while also sharing the news of their school,” said Chris Magnuson, executive director of Illinois Farm Bureau’s News and Communication division. “These types of hands-on opportunities typically create future career goals, and it’s exciting to think that some of these students could one day help tell agriculture and rural America’s story.”


Jerry Reppert, president of the Illinois Press Foundation Board, called Illinois Farm Bureau’s sponsorship “great news,” and added the mini-grants program has always been special to him.


For more information about the Illinois Press Foundation’s mini-grants program, email Rogers at jrogers@illinoispress.org.


The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 378,237 and a voting membership of 77,909. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.


The Illinois Press Foundation is dedicated to promoting and protecting free expression through educational activities that foster the practice and respect of First Amendment principles and values, to enhance the quality of services provided by newspapers to their communities, and to support reading and literacy efforts.


The IPF was established in 1982 as the charitable arm of the Illinois Press Association.


Its news service, Capitol News Illinois, has provided daily coverage of state government for Illinois’ newspapers since it was formed in 2019.





Partners in Recovery:
Sangamon County Recovery Oriented System of Care

April 8, 2021
CONTACT: Teagan Shull,

217-544-9858, ext. 3108

(Springfield) – Systems of recovery have been forming across the state of Illinois. The goals of these systems?  To support recovery. Family Guidance Centers, Inc. (FGC), a not-for-profit behavioral health care organization that treats and prevents substance use disorders, as well as an array of other behavioral health care concerns, received a grant to create a recovery oriented system of care (ROSC) right here in Sangamon County. What does a ROSC do?

ROSC is a coordinated network of community-based services and supports that is person-centered and builds on the strengths and resiliencies of individuals, families, and communities to achieve recovery and improved health, wellness, and quality of life for those with or at risk of substance use disorders. The central focus of a ROSC is to create an infrastructure, or “system of care”, with the resources to effectively address the full range of substance use disorders within communities. These goals include:  

* Building a culture that builds and nurtures recover
* Building capacity and infrastructure to support a recovery-oriented system of care;
* Developing commitment to implement and sustain a recovery-oriented system of care.

“The goal of a ROSC is to create a system that works for individuals in recovery. This means that individuals in recovery have access to the resources and support they need. Recovery is a lifelong journey not just a 28-day program and individuals, their families and the community all need to work together to support that journey,” said Tegan Shull, program manager of Sangamon County ROSC. “Currently the council is working on conducting a community needs assessment and developing educational materials to facilitate conversations in the community about recovery and start reducing the stigma that surrounds substance use disorders. Recovery truly takes a village and affects the entire community”

"The current system of care is complex and often poses barriers versus points of access. Individuals and family members struggle to navigate services that are disjointed and often times stigmatizing. Sangamon County needs a connected system with multiple points of access to treatment and recovery services,” said Trenda Hedges, manager of Wellness and Recovery Operations for Beacon Health Options. “The phrase ‘nothing about us without us’ has been the chant of individuals in recovery for decades. ROSC creates the opportunity for the voices of those most affected by substance use and misuse to be heard and implemented into a system of care that supports recovery."

Sangamon County Partners in Recovery (ROSC) meets monthly and all are invited to attend. If you or your organization would like to get involved, visit the ROSC website at Sangamon County Partners in Recovery (godaddysites.com) or email Teagan Shull at tshull@fgcinc.org.

120 N 11th St., Springfield, IL 62703, (217) 544-9858
Website: Sangamon County Partners in Recovery (godaddysites.com)



Illinois midwife bill passes
House Health Care Licensing Committee

March 29, 2021
CONTACT: Bukola M. Bello


After a decades-long fight, a bill to license certified professional midwives in Illinois passed the Illinois House of Representatives Health Care Licensing Committee March 24, 2021.

The bill grants a state license for midwives to assist in safe home births if they attain professional midwife certification, a nationally recognized credential.

The bill has been a long time coming. Variations of this bill have been brought before the legislature nearly every year since the late 1970s. In that same time, 35 states and Washington D.C. have granted licenses to certified professional midwives, many of which also cover the cost through state Medicaid programs.

Nearly 1,000 families in Illinois choose to give birth at home every year. These families may choose to do so due to cultural, philosophical or religious reasons, or because of fear related to trauma and racism.The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for out-of-hospital maternity care providers. Most people seeking out-of-hospital births this year have been left to navigate a market of underground midwives, which offers no state regulated protections for consumers.

People of color also face much higher risk of maternal mortality and other complications than their white counterparts. A recent National Academy of Engineering, Medicine, and Sciences' Birth Settings in America Report indicated that racism not race  is a risk that contributes to poorer outcomes for birthing people of color. Proponents of the bill believe that providing the people of Illinois more access to safe, licensed maternity care providers outside the hospital system can help address this problem.

Isis Rose, a Black mother, anthropologist, birth professional and home birth advocate, of Urbana, Illinois, told Illinois House Health Care Licensing Committee members that she chooses to birth at home because here in Illinois, Black women are six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.” The disproportionately high rates of negative pregnancy and birth outcomes for black birthing people of color, coined “obstetric racism” by anthropologist Dana-Ain Davis, is the primary reason she and her husband choose to have their babies at home with a certified professional midwife. She relayed that “for all people, especially Black birthing people, to feel comfortable choosing home birth, we need increased access to legal channels of midwifery and greater access to home birth midwives with congruent cultural backgrounds and lived experiences.”

In addressing these numerous issues, the Certified Professional Midwife Practice Act (HB 3401) will regulate the professional conduct of home birth midwives in Illinois by establishing a Midwifery Board and setting rigorous standards for practice; require midwives to meet educational standards supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; regulate the use of life-saving medications and treatments for mothers and newborns to ensure high-quality care for parent and child; allow midwives to screen for possible complications and conditions such as congenital heart defects and hearing disabilities; establish a safe system to transfer care during rare emergencies; and mandate informed consent forms to meet established standards.

Carrie Vickery, of Ottawa, Illinois, and vice president of Illinois Friends of Midwives, a group advocating and lobbying for broader access to midwifery care in Illinois, told state legislators during a March 24, 2021, hearing that the state of Illinois is failing in its duty to appropriately regulate home birth midwifery.

"Each year of delay in licensing and integrating home birth midwives puts consumers at risk," Vickery said. "We are telling you: protect us. Give us licensed certified professional midwives."

Hearing this call, the committee passed the bill with a unanimous vote, and the bill is expected to be brought to the House floor for a vote sometime later this session.

The bill's sponsors in the Illinois House of Representatives are state Reps. Rep.Robyn Gabel (D, Evanston), Anna Moeller (D, Elgin), Michelle Mussman (D, Schaumburg) William Davis (D, East Hazel Crest),Terra Costa-Howard (D, Lombard), Norine K. Hammond (R, Macomb), Kelly M. Cassidy (D, Chicago), Bob Morgan (D, Highwood), LaToya Greenwood (D, East St. Louis), Amy Grant (R, Wheaton), Lance Yednock (D, Ottawa), Steven Reick (R, Woodstock), Daniel Didech (D, Buffalo Grove), Michael T. Marron (R, Danville), Maurice A. West, II (D, Rockford), Thomas Morrison (R, Palatine), Rita Mayfield (D, Waukegan), Michael Halpin (D, Rock Island), Kathleen Willis (D, Northlake), Brad Halbrook (R, Shelbyville), Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. (D, Summit), Mark Batinick (R, Plainfield), Randy E. Frese (R, Quincy), Theresa Mah (D, Chicago), Margaret Croke (D, Chicago), Stephanie A. Kifowit (D, Aurora), Janet Yang Rohr (D, Naperville), Lindsey LaPointe (D, Chicago) and Suzanne Ness (D, Carpentersville).


receive recognition for their accomplishments”.

FCCLA’s 75thanniversary is a major milestone for the organization and FCS education. Whether one is looking to feel confident in the kitchen, make a difference in their community, or prepare for career success, FCCLA and FCS is the secret ingredient to succeed in the home and workplace.

Research Sources:

Tufts University: https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/general-nutrition/28-of-americans-cant-cook

WZDX Fox: https://www.rocketcitynow.com/article/news/what-ever-happened-to-home-ec-millennials-struggling-with-home-and-nutrition-skills/525-7f8fd87d-2134-408f-909b-4687ba46b496


Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is a dynamic and effective national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education. FCCLA has more than182,000 members and 5,253 chapters from 48 state associations, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.




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