Archive for November 2009

Governor Pat Quinn Appoints Human Services Commission; Panel Agenda Will Include Child Welfare

November 25, 2009

Governor Pat Quinn

(Chicago, IL) — Governor Pat Quinn this week signed an executive order creating an Illinois Human Services Commission to make public policy recommendations on a broad range of human service issues, including child welfare.

“Even in these tough economic times, it’s important that we always focus on providing vital human services to those in need,” said Governor Quinn.

“This Commission can be an important initiative if best practice recommendations in child welfare and other services can be embedded in Illinois public policy to concretely benefit abused and neglected children and others in Illinois,” said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

Quinn named Toni Irving and Ngoan Le as co-chairs of the Commission. Irving is Deputy Chief of Staff for the Office of the Governor. Le is a longtime public servant and Vice President of Programs at the Chicago Community Trust.

The Commission is comprised of members with expertise in both the public and private sectors. The group includes: two legislators from each of the four caucuses; chief administrators of eight of the State’s major human service agencies; human service advocates and community leaders; and two co-chairs designated by the Governor.

The Executive Order also states the Commission’s membership shall “reflect regional, racial, and cultural diversity to ensure representation of all Illinois citizens.”

The Commission will address issues such as the process for determining fair, adequate and timely reimbursement; efficient management of publicly-funded programs and services; and projections for future human services need in Illinois. The Commission will hold public hearings.

The Commission will submit an initial report on its progress and objectives to the Governor and the General Assembly by June 30, 2010. The Commission will then submit interim reports on November 30, 2010 and April 30 2011, and a final report outlining its findings and recommendations no later than November 22, 2011.

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Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang to Be Honored for Foster Family Legislative Advocacy

November 18, 2009

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

(Chicago, IL) – November 18, 2009. – The Child Care Association of Illinois will bestow its “Champion for Children” award on Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) for his relentless legislative advocacy in behalf of Illinois foster families.

Lang will receive the award in conjunction with efforts by groups across the country to celebrate National Family Week in honor of children and families in their communities.

“Rep. Lang has long fought to adequately reimburse Illinois foster parents for the cost of care and more broadly has long been a leader in child welfare reform,” said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois. “And we are proud to grant him our ‘Champion for Children’ award this year.”

Lang, a House lawmaker since 1987, said, “Marge Berglind, the Child Care Association and foster parents are the real champions for children here in Illinois, but I humbly accept and appreciate the honor on behalf of the work they perform.”

National Family Week, founded in 1968 and directed by the Alliance for Children and Families, embraces the premise that children live better lives when their families are strong, and families are strong when they live in communities that connect them to economic opportunities, social networks, and services.

Specifically, in 2010, the Child Care Association of Illinois will be focusing on two key legislative agenda items that aim to bolster Illinois foster families:

  • Protecting the current level of foster parent reimbursement in the face of enormous Illinois budget deficits
  • Imposing a fair method for calculating foster parent expense reimbursement rates in the future.

“Foster parents have had only two increases in eight years to pay expenses to feed, clothe, house, and transport foster children, and inflation has deeply eroded the value of the static state reimbursement,” said Berglind.

Rep. Lou Lang, Marge Berglind (left), CEO, Child Care Association, and Gladys Boyd (right), President, Illinois Foster Parents Association at a press conference last year on foster parent reimbursements.

“As inadequate as it is, still, we must protect the current reimbursement against any cuts next year as Illinois struggles to balance its budget.”

On average, an Illinois foster parent spends $703 per month—of that $281 comes out of the foster parent’s pocket, Berglind noted.

A national report on foster parent under-funding released two years ago by two national organizations and the University of Maryland said Illinois’ average rates (for children 2, 9, and 16) were $380, $422, and $458 per month and they needed to be raised to $661, $757, and $830 to meet actual costs.

Last year, legislation was sponsored by Lang to provide a one-time payment of $24 million to the state’s 7,500 foster parents. The payments would have averaged $145 per foster child.

“It’s an embarrassment that that the state seeks volunteer foster parents to care for abused and neglected children and then refuses to pay the full cost of care,” said Lang. “The very least we can do is inflict no further financial harm on foster parents next year.”

Once budget deficit pressures recede, Berglind says the Child Care Association of Illinois will resume its campaign to raise foster parent reimbursement rates.

Lang will receive the award at the Hyatt Hotel in Lisle on December 2 during the annual meeting of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

National Family Week is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Gov. Pat Quinn Aims to Borrow $900 Million to Ease Illinois Cash Flow Crisis—Madigan, Cullerton, Cross, and Radogno Must Address Longer-Term Illinois Budget Problem

November 4, 2009

Quinn_VetoDOC_Podium

Gov. Pat Quinn

(Springfield, Illinois) – Governor Pat Quinn is planning to borrow $900 million to help cash-strapped Illinois to pay its bills through the winter.

Quinn’s borrowing plan should help newly-appointed Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services Michelle Saddler to ease the cash flow crisis at the agency and to pay social service providers.

“A Cash flow crisis on top of earlier budget cuts at the Illinois Department of Human Services is creating more risk to reliable care for at-risk youth each day,” said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois. “The new borrowing should help Secretary pay the bills.”

“For example, one of our agencies should have received about $43,000 by now to provide the 24-hour crisis service to youth at risk of entering child welfare or juvenile justice systems,” said Berglind. “To date, they’ve received only $900.”

“Another 24-hour youth crisis service agency is owed $136,000 and has received nothing,” Berglind added. “Vendors need to be paid.”

“However, the longer-term cash flow problem is not Governor Quinn’s responsibility alone,” said Berglind. “House Speaker Michael Madigan, House Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Christine Radogno must assume the responsibility as well.”

“The Illinois budget dysfunction is undermining the provision of basic services to its citizens,” Berglind added.

The Child Care Association of Illinois is also raising the provider cash flow problems to House Human Services Appropriations Chair Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and Senate Appropriations Chair Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), Berglind noted.