Archive for the ‘DCFS’ category

DCFS Data Reveals Confirmed Illinois Child Abuse, Neglect Projected to Drop 27% Since 2008

May 1, 2012

(Springfield, IL) – May 1, 2012. Illinois child welfare advocates today released an analysis of state child welfare data and hailed a projected 24% drop of confirmed child abuse and neglect in Illinois since 2008.

Analysis of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

“Our review of the Illinois Department Children and Family Services data reveals concretely what we in the field knew intuitively–Illinois children are safer today than they were even just four years ago,” said Margaret Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

According to the group’s review of the data, there were 29,802 cases of confirmed child abuse or neglect in Illinois in fiscal year 2008, and by annualizing the first seven months of fiscal year 2012 data, there will be 21,720 confirmed cases, which constitutes a 27% decrease.

“We are on our way to see a 27% decrease in child abuse and neglect in Illinois,” said Berglind. “That accomplishment is due to combined efforts of DCFS and private child welfare agencies to continue to implement the reforms that began in 1995.”

Berglind noted that the DCFS data is on track to reveal child safety progress on multiple fronts, including child sex abuse, substance abuse-exposed babies, and child deaths.

“If the current trends continue, child deaths, as a result of abuse or neglect, are set to fall by 60%,” said Berglind. “This good news confirms that the Illinois child welfare system is effectively doing its job–which is protecting children.”

Berglind also noted that there are fewer children in state care. Illinois has reduced its child caseload from nearly 51,000 from 1997 to 18,413 in 2012—a 63% reduction in the foster care caseload compared to a national reduction of 24%.

Additionally, More children have been placed in permanent homes. More than 40,000 children moved out of foster care to adoption and guardianship over the last decade, Berglind noted.

However, Berglind did sound a cautionary note that Illinois’ protection progress could be jeopardized if the Illinois General Assembly further cuts the DCFS budget by more than the $44 million recommended by Governor Pat Quinn.

“While the Illinois General Assembly and DCFS have implemented legislative and program reform to overhaul the Illinois child welfare system, the state’s performance is still significantly governed by eight court consent decree settlements,” said Berglind. “If the legislature cuts the DCFS budget too deeply, the state risks undermining the safety of children and risks court action.”

In 2008,  the state provided $897 million of its own money to DCFS. For next year, Quinn is proposing to spend only $746 million of general revenue money, or a 16.8% reduction.

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Video: Illinois Legislature Protects Illinois Child Welfare Budget, Advocate Says

May 16, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — May 16, 2011. The Illinois Senate and House have approved their version of state human service budgets and both preserve core Illinois Department of Children and Family Services funding, according to the state’s top child welfare advocate group.

The Senate and House human services appropriations committees, chaired by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), respectively, which need to be reconciled in a legislative conference committee, preserve “essential” funding, according to Margaret Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

“Both the House and Senate have responded to our advocacy to assure essential services for DCFS wards are provided,” said Berglind. “We deeply appreciate the leadership of Rep. Feigenholtz and Senator Steans.”

Advocates Urge Lawmakers to Approve Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Budget

May 2, 2011

(Springfield, IL) — May 2, 2011. Illinois’ top child welfare advocate group has called on the state legislature to back Governor Pat Quinn‘s proposed $1.2 billion Illinois Department of Children Family Services fiscal year 2012 budget.

“The Illinois child welfare system has gone from the worst in the nation to a national model because of reforms demanded by eight different court consent decrees and legislated by the Illinois General Assembly,” said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

“Courts ordered reforms 10-years ago and lawmakers delivered,” said Berglind. “Now legislators have to protect their investment and approve the governor’s requested budget.”

Quinn’s proposal cuts 2.87% or $24.9 million in General Revenue Funds from the agency’s fiscal year 2011 level.

Lawmakers are back in Springfield this week to address budget issues.

Illinois House Panel Advances Rep. Joe Lyon’s Bill to Win $17 Million from Feds for Illinois Foster Children Care

April 14, 2010

State Rep. Joe Lyons

(Springfield, IL) — April 14, 2010. An Illinois House panel today unanimously approved a bill that would enable the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to capture an additional $17 million from the federal government to help pay for Illinois foster children care.

The House Human Services Committee backed the legislation, Senate Bill 3420, sponsored by State Rep. Joe Lyons (D-Chicago) by a 7-0 bi-partisan vote. Committee members include: Naomi Jakobsson (D), Connie Howard (D), Patty Bellock (R), Sandy Cole (R), Annazette Collins (D), Mary Flowers (D), and Tim Schmitz (R).

“The economic crisis has undermined a DCFS fund that pays for care of abused and neglected children and it can no longer generate enough money to sustain current spending,” said Marge Berglind, President of Child Care Association of Illinois.

“The legislation will cost the state nothing. All the new money would come from the federal government.”

DCFS has asked private child welfare agencies to voluntarily convert foster care and counseling services into Medicaid-claimable programs.

In addition to Lyons, House sponsors include: Naomi Jakobsson (D), Sara Feigenholtz (D), Pat Verschoore (D), Jehan Gordon (D), David Leitch (D), Paul Froehlich (D), LaShawn Ford (D) and Tom Holbrook (D).

The legislation now moves to consideration by the full House.

State Senator Dan Kotowski Pushes Bill to Capture $17 Million from Federal Government for Illinois Foster Care

March 1, 2010

State Senator Dan Kotowski

(Springfield, IL) – March 1, 2010. An Senate legislative panel on Tuesday will likely consider a bill that would enable the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to capture an additional $17 million from the federal government to help pay for Illinois foster children care.

The Illinois Senate Human Services Committee is scheduled to address legislation, Senate Bill 3420, sponsored by State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), a member of the committee, on Tuesday, March 2.

“Due to the current economic crisis, the DCFS fund that pays for care of abused and neglected children can no longer generate enough money to sustain current spending,” said Marge Berglind, President of Child Care Association of Illinois.

“The legislation sponsored by Senator Kotowski will help fix that problem,” Berglind added. “And it will cost the state nothing. All the new money would come from the federal government.”

DCFS has asked private child welfare agencies to voluntarily convert foster care and counseling services into Medicaid-claimable programs.

“We estimate that the fee-for-service conversion and enhanced Medicaid services could generate an additional $17 million for the FY2011 DCFS budget,” said Berglind. “And Senator Kotowski’s bill will direct that money back to the fund to care for foster children.”

In addition to Kotowski, the committee members include Senators: Mattie Hunter (D), Deanna Demuzio (D), William Delgado (D), Heather Steans (D), Dave Syverson (R), Dave Syverson (R), Dan Duffy (R), and Dale Risinger (R).

Child Welfare League of America Hosts Chicago Roundtable to Grapple with New Federal Foster Care, Adoption Law

September 1, 2009

Marge Berglind, President & CEO, Child Care Association of Illinois

Marge Berglind, President & CEO, Child Care Association of Illinois

(Chicago, IL) — 1 September 2009. The Child Welfare League of America today convenes a regional round-table in Chicago to focus on the implementation new landmark federal legislation, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.

Participants, including Marge Berglind, President and CEO of the Child Care Association of Illinois, will examine implementation challenges in kinship care, youth aging out of foster care, educational provisions, tribal issues, and provisions to strengthen the child welfare workforce.

The act, signed by President George Bush on October 7, 2008, will help hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children find a safe, loving and permanent home by increasing opportunities for adoption and relative guardianship, according to a Casey Foundation Family Programs summary report.

The Casey Family Program summary also says the new law will improve critical education and health care services for children in foster care and better prepare older youth for adulthood by extending federal support for transition programs to age 21.

In addition to the Child Care Association of Illinois, roundtable participatns include:

  • Child Welfare League of America
  • American Bar Association
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
  • Former Foster Youth

The round-table will be held at the administrative offices of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services 100 W. Randolph, Room 2-025. The event begins at 9:00 a.m.

For additional information, contact Linda Spears at 703/412-3165 and visit the Child Welfare League of America website at www.cwla.org.

IL Legislature Approves, Governor Pat Quinn Signs Illinois Budget–Homeless Youth, Mentally Ill, Others Still Face Loss of Care, Services

July 16, 2009

(Springfield, IL) — The Illinois General Assembly last night approved and the Governor Pat Quinn signed the Fiscal Year 2010 Illinois budget.

The good news is that there is now a regular FY’10 budget, so that contracts and cash can begin to flow. The bad news is that the budget still contains serious cuts.

The budget does not contain revenue for a tax increase, but contains revenues from fund sweeps and

Governor Pat Quinn

Governor Pat Quinn

funds generated from pension borrowing to offset the Illinois “doomsday” budget losses in human service funding. However, human services are funded only at an average of 86% of FY ’09 levels.

State agencies will be mandated to set aside $1.1 billion total in reserves, not spending appropriated dollars until review later in the year, so this will pose an additional strain for programs that are already reduced. Finally, there is an expectation inherent in this budget that some FY ’10 payments to providers will be delayed into FY ’11 as a way of saving funds in FY ’10. This “borrowing” from providers is estimated at $1.5 billion. . There is estimated to be $1.1 billion in cuts.  The overall funding for the state is approximately 92% of FY ’09 levels.

Social services are funded at an average of 86% of FY ’09 amounts. This is an AVERAGE only.

State agencies received lump sum appropriations and not detailed line item appropriations. State agencies will make determinations of how to spend and allocate the reduced amounts within the lump sum allocations. The General Assembly did not appropriate division, program or line items for the state agencies. The Governor and state agencies will need to make decisions on how the 86% funding levels will be distributed to meet human needs.

Legislators who presented and commented on the proposed budgets confirmed that the budget represents all the money Illinois has. Cuts will be deep. However, they acknowledged that Illinois was out of time and options in terms of passing some type of budget. They characterized this as a budget that avoids a complete meltdown but avoids a tax increase.

Child Care Association of Illinois staff reviewed the lump sum appropriations for each state agency. At this time, there is really no way to determine if the lump sums represent the expected 86% funding level, or if the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services appropriation represents the mandates of the federal BH consent decree.   We will need to obtain more detail from the state agencies, once the dust settles.

Governor Quinn and thus, the state agencies, will have wide latitude in determining how to spend the reduced funding levels. Although the 86% funding level for human service grants is an AVERAGE, there is NO GUARANTEE THAT ALL PROGRAMS WOULD BE FUNDED AT 86%.

The state agencies will need to make determinations about priority programs, funding levels and potential rate or utilization reductions. Language in the budget bill allows the agencies to do this.  For example, in the Illinois Department of Humans Services, appropriations are usually made in very specific amounts by division. This year, however, there is no differentiation of the total funds given to DHS for use in youth services or mental health or developmental disabilities or substance abuse. The Governor has asked the state agencies for their spending plans. There is much work to be done ahead with the state agencies.

The DCFS budget is not necessarily exempt from all aspects of the budget restrictions, although the requirements of the BH court order of July 1 mandate certain services.  We have asked DCFS finance staff to let us know whether their analysis of the amounts appropriated to DCFS reflect the budget needs necessary so that DCFS can fund services at FY ’09 levels as planned.

The budget is actually named “Emergency Budget Implementation Act of Fiscal Year 2010” and refers to the extraordinary financial situation. The legislative intent of the budget bill states:

“The General Assembly hereby finds and declares that the State is confronted with an unprecedented fiscal crisis. This Act is to be liberally construed and interpreted in a manner that allows the State to
address the fiscal crisis for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.”

The budget bill also contains language that will allow emergency rule making. This will allow the state agencies to implement the program and finance challenges expeditiously in rules.  The JCAR process of legislative review will still be used.

Finally, there does not appear to be any agreement at this time about revisiting a tax increase. Some legislators predict such discussions will emerge in the fall veto session. Others look to January before there is any serious consideration of a tax increase. There is no guarantee that the budget we have today will in any way be enhanced by other revenue within this fiscal year.

The great disappointment of this budget means challenges for CCAI members throughout this fiscal year and as we plan for FY ’11. Advocacy efforts must continue to remind the public and the general assembly that an 86% human service level is not acceptable.

Policy advocacy and scrutiny of the state agency decisions will become a big part of this year’s activities. We need to prepare for the inevitable funding challenges of FY ’11 when some of the federal stimulus money protecting ISBE this year, goes away.