DCFS could experience budget cuts

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

The Department of Family and Child Services might be affected by budget reductions if the cuts Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed to social services are implemented.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Rauner proposed cuts to social service agencies such as DCFS as well as higher education in what he called his “turnaround agenda,” which would equal a 12.5 percent reduction for DCFS.

Andrew Flach, a DCFS spokesman, said the budget cuts would affect services to young adults.

“The proposed budget cuts would require the Department of Children and Family Services to stop providing services to young adults aged 18-21,” Flach said.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Rauner said former state wards after age 18 may seek public assistance through other agencies as other people living in Illinois do if they need help.

Flach said The 18-21 age group represents approximately 2,400 young adults currently in their care.

The services provided to those aged 17 and younger would not change.

“Services to those 17 and younger will not be impacted by this budget proposal – only those 18-21 would experience a cut in services,” Flach said.

Other services that would be discontinued would be preparation for adult living services, housing support, counseling and therapeutic services, educational support, vocational training, scholarships and youth in college.

Flach said these are a small sample of the services that would have to be discontinued.

“We are currently working with private providers and other state agencies to implement a plan to ensure a smooth transition for these young adults,” Flach said.

According to the Illinois Observer website, the Child Care Association of Illinois has called on the Illinois General Assembly and Rauner to make some policy changes to strengthen the state’s residential treatment centers and for a broader child welfare system for abused and neglected children.

These include strengthening DCFS-funded residential center front line workers, boosting support for foster parents and overhauling Illinois’ DCFS monitoring system.

According to a document by the Child Care Association called “Illinois Child Welfare Reform Strategy,” the CCA proposes necessary reforms to the Illinois child welfare system.

The document states these reforms would improve the safety of all youth in care, identify problems in programs early and enhance treatment capacity of residential programs, among others.

On the Illinois Observer website, CCA CEO Margaret Berglindmost said youth care staff entering the residential workforce are underpaid in the range of $9 to $11 per hour.

Among other things, CCA proposed increasing the baseline salary for front-line residential workers.

According to “Illinois Child Welfare Reform Strategy,” CCA proposed a minimum salary of $15 an hour for entry-level residential workers.

 

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]