Archive for June 2009

Illinois Doomsday Budget Edges Toward Illinois Doomsday Budget-Lite

June 30, 2009

MEMORANDUM

TO:        CCAI CEOs/EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS/POLICY COMMITTEE
FROM: MARGE BERGLIND, President, Child Care Association of Illinois
DATE:  JUNE 30, 2009
RE:       HOUSE APPROVES BILL TO ADD $2+Billion TO BUDGET

Last night, the Illinois House voted to approve $2.23 billion in general obligation bonds to fund pension obligations. This would free those funds to use for the FY’ 10 operating budget. An amendment was added to the original bill that mandates use of these funds for community-based human services. The amendment reads:

SB 415 with HA # 4
“Section 1. Legislative intention; assist our most vulnerable citizens. It is the intention of the General Assembly in enacting this legislation that, by applying the net proceeds of the sale of general obligation bonds in the amount of $2,230,000,000 authorized by this amendatory Act of the 96th General Assembly to fund pension obligations of the State, an equivalent amount will be made available for the State’s operational expenses in these times of fiscal crisis to help fund programs and services provided by community-based human service providers to ensure that we continue assisting the most vulnerable of our citizens.”

The bill will now move to the senate for concurrence with the amendments.

If the bill is approved by the Senate and signed by Governor Pat Quinn, it could provide some budget relief for FY ’10. However, the shortfall in Governor Quinn’s current, projected Illinois doomsday budget is purported to be $5 billion in community-provided services. This leaves a shortfall of $2.77 in community human services, which include the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). There is also a $4.2 billion deficit in state-provided services.

During debate, the sponsor verified that this bill is not intended to be a line-item appropriations bill. It generates revenue. The intent is to give Governor Quinn and the state agencies latitude to determine which human services must  be funded, in whole or in part, with this $2.23 billion.

If the Senate approves and Governor Quinn signs this bill, there will be additional funds for the state budget. However, there will still likely be cuts and reductions, since there is still not enough revenue to fill the budget gap.

As of last night, no vote was expected on a tax increase.

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Illinois Doomsday Budget Prompts ACLU Lawsuit to Halt Illinois Child Welfare Budet Cuts

June 29, 2009

(Chicago, IL) — The looming Illinois doomsday budget cuts facing the Illinois child welfare system prompted the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to file an emergency motion in federal court today seeking to enforce the terms of a consent decree monitored by the U.S. District Court in Chicago.

“The Governor and the legislature need to understand that this state’s budget cannot be balanced on the backs of its most vulnerable residents – children in foster care,” said Benjamin Wolf, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU of Illinois announcing the filing of the complaint.

“This state recognized when it agreed to the consent decree that the child welfare system was a disaster, and they agreed to specific steps to reform DCFS.  Now is not the time to retreat from that commitment and derail this important process.”

Judge John Grady will hear arguments in support of the ACLU of Illinois’ efforts to enforce the decree on Monday, June 29th at 5:00 p.m.

In recent days, the full impact that the 50% cut in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services budget will have on safety and well-being of children in foster care in Illinois has become clear.

Governor Pat Quinn‘s Chief of Staff, Jerome Stermer, estimated, as an example, that the caseload of DCFS staff workers’ will more than triple, from 15 children (at present) to as many as 50 children.    Likewise, the budget cuts nearly double the DCFS investigator caseloads, from 11 active investigations to 20 active cases at any one time.

Both of these figures violate the consent decree and place children at risk since caseworkers and investigators do not have the time and attention to focus on the needs of an individual child.

Taken together, these cuts and others will put DCFS in violation of federal law and the consent decree, according to the ACLU of Illinois.

That view is shared, apparently, by the current Director of DCFS, Erwin McEwen.

In a June 5, 2009 letter describing the impact of the budget cuts, Mr. McEwen wrote the Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, Ginger Ostrow, declaring that the cuts place DCFS “in violation of the law and Consent Decrees regarding services to protected classes of Illinois citizens,” and that DCFS would “fail in its ability to reasonably insure the safety of the children and families we serve.”

The decree grew out of negotiations around a case filed originally in 1988, and now called B.H. v. McEwen.

“No one wants to return to the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s when the newspapers were filled with stories about children under the care of DCFS – and who should have been under the care of DCFS – being neglected and abused,” said Heidi Dalenberg of the Chicago office of Schiff Hardin, a cooperating counsel on the case.

Illinois Doomsday Budget Forces Quinn to Slash 9,000 Illinois Foster Parent Subsidies 50%, Many Foster Kids to be Returned Within 90 Days

June 18, 2009

(Chicago, IL) – Nearly 50 Chicago-area foster parents gathered for a press conference at the James R. Thompson Center today to denounce Governor Pat Quinn’s reduction of Illinois foster parent expense reimbursement by 50% and to implore that the legislature find the money to reverse the cuts.

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

“The Illinois ‘doomsday’ budget threatened by Governor Quinn have now become our reality,” said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois, commenting on budget cuts to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

“Last week, Governor Quinn ordered DCFS to move forward and cut its budget by $461million,” said Berglind. “Starting on July 1, DCFS is reducing by 50% the expense reimbursement money to the Illinois’ 9,000 foster parents and eliminate support services.”

On May 31 the Illinois General Assembly approved a new budget which cut $7 billion from a range of state programs, imposing—on average—50% reductions on many human services programs.

Lawmakers cut $460 million from the $1.3 billion DCFS budget.

Berglind estimates that within 90 days after the reduced reimbursements begin and support services are eliminated that many of the foster parents will begin to return kids to DCFS

“Many foster parents will be unable to continue to feed and clothe foster children and within 90 days or so many foster parents will, painfully, begin to return the kids,” said Berglind. “Since there will be no available beds in residential facilities, the state will likely need to deploy cots in state buildings to house and monitor the kids.”

Foster parent Gladys Boyd, 59, of Richton Park reluctantly agrees.

“It breaks my heart,” said Boyd, president of Illinois Foster Parents Association. “I love my kids and I will keep them with me as long as possible, but without the full reimbursement and the support services after more than three months, I’ll have no choice but return them to DCFS.”

“These politicians should be ashamed of themselves,” Boyd added. “Completely ashamed.”

In addition to the foster parent subsidy reductions, DCFS’ other cuts being implemented are:

  • 50:1 worker-to-child caseload ratios in foster care (15:1 is current caseload;
  • 25:1 is permitted under a federal court consent decree
  • 18% reductions in residential rates
  • Drastic reductions or complete elimination of foster parent support and ancillary services.

“The failure of the Illinois General Assembly to agree to an income tax increase to avoid the gutting of care for abused and neglected children is a disgrace,” said Berglind. “Fortunately, lawmakers, such as Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang possess the courage and leadership to put the interests of children before politics.”

Lang voted for a temporary income tax increase to fund foster child care and other human services.

Governor Quinn and legislative leaders–House Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno–continue to discuss potential budget solutions but have so far failed to reach a deal.

The legislature returns to Springfield on Tuesday, June 23 to seek a budget solution.

Illinois Foster Children Could be Returned to the State Unless Quinn, Lawmakers Act

June 16, 2009

(Chicago, IL) — From Fox-TV/Ch 32 is reporting that social service providers contend that Illinois residents will face dire consequences if Governor Pat Quinn and lawmakers don’t pass a new Illinois budget.

The providers says foster children could be returned to the state, addicts won’t get treatment, senior citizens could go uncared for and domestic violence victims will have nowhere to turn.

Read more and view video on FOX TV …

Press Conference: Quinn Slashes 9,000 Foster Parent Subsidies 50% – Many Foster Parents to Return Kids within 90 Days; Cots Likely in State Buildings, Advocates Warn

June 16, 2009

(Chicago, IL) — The Child Care Association of Illinois will host a press conference on Thursday to highlight the risk to care for abused and neglected children as Governor Pat Quinn‘s budget plan for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services slashes 9,000 foster parent expense reimbursements by 50% and eliminates foster child support services due to the Illinois doomsday budget which begins July 1.

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

Press Conference:

Who?

  • 25 Chicago-area Foster Parents
  • Marge Berglind, President, Child Care Association of Illinois
  • Lou Lang (D-Skokie), Deputy House Majority Leader (right)
  • Rev. Timothy C. Rhodes,CEO and President, Lifelink

What?

  • Nearly 25 Chicago-area foster parents will appear at a press conference at the James R. Thompson Center to denounce Governor Pat Quinn’s budget reduction by 50% of expense reimbursements to the state’s 9,000 foster parents and to implore the legislature find the money to reverse the cuts.

When?

  • Thursday, June 18 at 12:30 p.m.

Where?

  • James R. Thompson Center, 15th Floor Press Room, 100 West Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois

Illinois DCFS Doomsday Budget Alert: DCFS Slashes Care; Quinn, Madigan, Cross, Cullerton and Radogno Still Have No Illinois Budget Agreement

June 16, 2009

TO: CCAI CEOs/POLICY COMMITTEE
FROM: MARGE BERGLIND, President, Child Care Association of Illinois
DATE : June 11, 2009
SUBJECT: STATE BUDGET ALERT

The Doomsday Budget for abused and neglected children comes July 1.

Although the Governor Pat Quinn and the 4 legislative leaders–Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno–have conducted meetings during the last week, there are no new developments to report, and they are not scheduled to meet again until next Tuesday.

It now seems very likely that the spending and service cuts threatened by the Governor when the 50% operating budget was passed by the legislature, will now become our reality. Last week the Governor ordered all state agency directors to submit management plans to reflect the 50% cuts and 25% reserves.

Today, a top Illinois Department of Children and Family Services source reported that DCFS is in the process of finalizing decisions about how DCFS will manage its severe cuts totaling more than $461 million. At this moment, DCFS intends to notify private agencies within the next few days of the intended cuts. Among the cuts being considered are:

  • 50:1 worker-to-foster child caseload ratios in foster care (15:1 current ratio; 25:1 federal BH consent decree limit)
  • 50% reduction in cost of care reimbursements for 9,000 foster parents
  • 18% reductions in foster children residential rates
  • Drastic reductions or complete elimination of support and ancillary services.

There is no agreement between or among legislators and the Governor’s office about the problem, or its solution. There remains a disparity of opinions among legislators, and shows that it will continue to be an uphill struggle to convince lawmakers of the need for an income tax increase to avoid cuts.

However, CCAI must continue to press on, even with this grim picture. Over the next 2 weeks, CCAI is organizing press conferences in conjunction with our member agencies. The CCAI Policy Committee is working with us to advise and assist in the organization of the press conferences.  We need to highlight and engage those service recipients who will be hurt by the anticipated DCFS cuts as participants in the press conferences.  Because it is difficult for us to use children in care, we will be asking foster parents to help us with this task. The overall goal is to publicize the overwhelming difficulties across the DCFS system if cuts are made.

We also urge you as a CCAI member to stay committed to working with your legislators to continue to let them know about the specific impacts of the cuts to the children and families you serve.  We also need our member agencies to stay committed to working with each other as an association. Even in the doomsday climate there are some bright spots.

We will be celebrating our current legislative successes during our Annual Meeting on June 24 by recognizing some legislators who have been supportive of our issues.  Although this will be a very tough storm, we know by staying together that we will weather that storm.

Please call us if you have any questions.

Marge Berglind
President
Child Care Association of Illinois
Phone: 217-528-4409 x 7007
Fax: 217-528-6498