Posted tagged ‘Illinois abused neglected kids’

Illinois Foster Care System Feels Pinch from Budget Cuts

November 4, 2008

(Chicago, IL) – Bring back the funding Illinois children need to thrive. That’s the message from foster care advocates and providers who are urging Governor Rod Blagojevich to sign legislation restoring funds cut

Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Gov. Rod Blagojevich

from the budget. Those cuts have reduced staff at the Department of Children and Family Services as well as payments for foster homes and services.

Dave Roth with Lutheran Child and Family Services says, for many children, the cuts mean their time in the system will become more traumatic.

“Each time they lose a foster home or a casework relationship that they’ve built up over time it’s that much harder for them to think about trusting another adult again.”

Roth says many of these services help to prevent disruptions in the foster home in times of trouble.

“If they’re encountering difficulties, they need that extra help that prevents the child from running and the foster parent from throwing up their hands in frustration. Those supports are being cut in half.”

Mary Krawczyk is the director of clinical and community services at Lutheran Child and Family Services. She says the foster care situation is becoming more and more challenging.

“Finding good, qualified homes continues to be very difficult. Putting a further emotional strain on anyone in the family makes them less likely to foster — that creates a huge strain statewide.”

Although funding reductions have not been fully implemented, providers report they already are feeling the strain of having fewer resources. The governor’s office says the cuts were necessary because legislators passed an unbalanced budget.

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Governor Blagojevich Urged to Sign Budget Bill for Abused and Neglected Children

November 4, 2008

(Chicago, IL) — The Child Care Association today called on Governor Rod Blagojevich to sign legislation to restore $21 million to the state budget for abused and neglected children.

Marge Berglind, CEO, Child Care Association of Illinois

Marge Berglind, CEO, Child Care Association of Illinois

“Like Illinois state parks and historic sites, Department of Children and Family Services programs for abused and neglected children have their own budget cut-doomsday scenario,” said Marge Berglind, CEO, Child Care Association of Illinois.”Unlike state parks and historic sites, however, if the DCFS budget cuts go unrestored, its programs’ physical presence will shrink by 40%.”

Most DCFS Systems of Care programs run by private agencies—whose budgets were cut more than 40% by DCFS—will shrivel. This program provides critical emergency counseling, crisis intervention, and concrete supports to foster parents when the children experience trauma and behavior problems.

“Without restored funding, care to nearly 1,200 children in this program will be lost. Employees will be fired. Office space shuttered. Programs closed,” said Berglind.

In September, the Illinois Senate voted 55-0 and the House 113-0 to restore funding to maintain this care for the 1,200 abused and neglected children.

“What we also know is that without the money these children will once again be victimized—but this time by the State of Illinois,” said Berglind

Berglind is urging the Governor to approve S.B. 1103 and restore the $21,219,715 budget cuts imposed on the Department of Children and Family Services as soon as possible.

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

November 4, 2008

(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.”