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

(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.

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