Governor Slashes $20 Million More from Abused, Neglected Children Care, Cuts Top $70 Million

(Springfield, IL)— On July 9 Governor Rod Blagojevich vetoed $45 million from the state foster care budget that cares for more than Illinois’ 16,000 abused and neglected children.

In August, Governor cut $20 million more. Total cuts to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services now stand at $70 million.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Gov. Rod Blagojevich

“The Governor first slashed $45 million from care for abused and neglected children. Now $20 million more. Gone.” said Marge Berglind, CEO of Child Care Association of Illinois. “This budget cut double-whammy will undermine care for the kids. This is brutal.”

On August 1, DCFS announced that in addition to the DCFS line item veto reductions of $44,783,270 an additional $25,947,970 would be withheld from child welfare agencies for a total budget reduction of $70,731,240.  Specific cuts are to be announced by DCFS in 30 days.

“What the state’s 16,000 abused and neglected children need most is a caseworker’s attention, and they’ll get a whole lot less attention now,” said Berglind. “A caseworker’s caseload will jump from 15 to 1 to 20 to 1 in a heartbeat.”

If a professional caseworker’s caseload spikes to 20 to 1, then Illinois will run the risk of failing federal outcome requirements. Illinois’ failure to meet those outcomes will directly jeopardize Illinois’ federal funding which constitutes almost one half of the annual DCFS foster care budget, Berglind noted.

Berglind said of the $70 million cut almost $20 million will come from caregivers: $14 million from private child welfare agencies and $5 million from foster parents.

“The loss of the foster parent money will only add to the crushing impact of gas and food price increases on foster families,” said Berglind. “Without the $5 million, foster parents will have a harder time feeding the children,” said Berglind.

In addition to caregivers, the Governor slashed $5.4 million for DCFS children’s mental health care, and he has targeted a specialized system—System of Care—that helps foster parents care for troubled children.

“Cutting money from mental health emergency response services to children experiencing a mental health crisis, such as attempted suicide, could cause true tragedy,” said Berglind. “And eliminating support for foster parents faced with all sorts of challenges, like bed wetting, just undermines care and stability for a child.”

“We hope the Governor, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Senate President Emil Jones can resolve restore foster care funding through supplemental budget bill as soon as possible,” said Berglind. “Otherwise, abused and neglected children are going to suffer.”

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