A Message from Our Founder & Executive Director
Susan McConnell founded Let It Be Us in 2014
Let It Be Us has designed and built a strong and innovative bridge between our children in foster care and licensed foster homes, including those families interested in guardianship and adoption. Our work has been applauded by stakeholders in child welfare as we bring innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face. During this time of change in our world, we are working harder than ever as we innovate and pivot to meet the demands placed on our child welfare system.
I am the founder and executive director of the licensed child welfare agency and licensed nonprofit organization Let It Be Us which designs strong and innovative programming to support children in foster care, including those who are in emergent need and/or who are challenging to place. Our child-specific recruitment tools offer customized solutions for each child referred to us, ensuring their placement in well-matched, safe and loving homes. Our work is evidence-based and we are changing the landscape of foster care and adoption in Illinois.
At Let It Be Us, I lead a team that shares the vision of a safe and loving home for each child in foster care and for those awaiting adoption. We play a role in solving pressing problems. We embrace a commitment to justice and a sense of urgency regarding our work. We work in a partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as well as all Child Welfare Agencies throughout the State of Illinois. We are a strong voice on critical life-affecting challenges for the children we serve. We are the first nonprofit organization of our kind in Illinois and, I believe, the nation.
I am a parent to 4 children, 3 through adoption, and I have 30 years of experience in open adoption. I founded Let It Be Us because I know how important it is that every child lives in, and is loved by, a family. A family is a life-long support system, a social safety net. The fact that the United States has over 100,000 children in the foster care system who are awaiting adoption is simply unacceptable, as is the fact that Illinois ranks last in the nation at achieving permanency as well as adoption for her waiting children. I am the vice-chair of the Illinois Statewide Foster Care and Advisory Counsel where we use a larger voice to bring about change. And, finally, as the recipient of a congressional award for my work in foster care, I have a responsibility and a passion for the Let It Be Us mission.
I am especially proud of designing our Placement Support Program with my Let It Be Us team, which may be the first program in the country to combine the use of subscription-based social media, a proprietary database of licensed and open homes, and a unique texting platform to swiftly and effectively locate parents for waiting children. I’m also proud of our Foster Care Recruitment and Licensing Events which recruit hundreds of new families each year and help them become licensed.
Together with a Board of Directors consisting of incredibly talented experts in adoption, foster care, education, marketing, public relations, media, social media, and fundraising, our work was launched in Illinois in March of 2014. Our Board is heavily weighted with foster parents and adoptive parents who know the system firsthand. And, Illinois is the perfect place to start.
All of our work at Let It Be Us is designed to increase permanency. That is important because, according to the University of Chicago, children who age out of the system without a family are destined to live according to the following statistics:
- 97% will never attend college
- Only 50% will finish high school. (Only 37% will finish high school in Illinois)
- 45% of the girls will be pregnant by age 19
- The percentage of boys who end up in the prison system is extreme and incalculable. (We suspect it is well over 50%)
- The financial cost to the state is significant and the social cost to our communities is high, but the emotional and life-long cost to the children is unimaginable
- Foster youth are 42% more likely to die before they reach adulthood, regardless of race
Since our inception, our accomplishments have opened doors showing us more need than we imagined. We seek corporate and foundation sponsorship during this opportune time in Illinois as the State stands ready to solve problems and identifies this as one of its most important. I am available to speak to groups or to meet with stakeholders, donors, or grantors to discuss the mission of Let It Be Us.
Thank you for your interest in Let It Be Us. Our work will not only help these waiting children, but it will also benefit the generations to come.
Susan A. McConnell
Founder and Executive Director