Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) started off his discussion with Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Acting Director Beverly Walker with one question.
How many directors have we had in the last 10 years?
“Ten in the last seven years,” Rose answered his own query.
The question posed at the April 17 Senate Appropriations I Committee Hearing by Rose began his lengthy opinion on the department.
“This agency has been listless for a decade, and this is no slight to you because you just got there,” Rose said to Walker, who was appointed as an acting director in June 2017.
As a former prosecutor, Rose said he has always had an issue with the agency, which he admits is given an impossible task on the front end, that no one is ever happy with; however, that is still no excuse for Walker to oppose further funds for institutionalized group home settings.
“What struck me at the beginning was your comment that you are the state’s emergency room,” Rose said, then questioning once a child is triaged does DCFS truly have the resources to follow up. “Because your budget priorities here say you don’t.”
Walker said there is an advantage to making critical calls on the front end, and there is no question that more money is helpful, but more funds do not ensure aftercare always works.
Rose suggested sharing some jurisdiction with other state departments for DCFS to become more efficient, but Walker did not agree.
“I think there is something to be said about an end-to-end approach from understanding what brought a child into care all the way through to what it is that is needed to get that child back home,” Walker said.
Again, Rose said he didn’t see that in Walker’s budget priorities before asking if she would be willing to engage in standardized rate setting conversations.
“On any given day,” Walker said.
Taking editorial liberty, Rose concluded the discussion by noting one of his constituent’s experience with DCFS and how the “state admittedly screwed up in removing their foster child from their placement.” He said after convincing the family to stay in the foster care program, DCFS is threatening another child be removed from their home.
“I am so tired of listening to DCFS, director after director after director, tell me ‘we have to do a better job of training’,” Rose said.
He said he was at a loss for words.
“I am done giving you guys the benefit of the doubt,” Rose said. “There will be accountability; there will be training; there will be enforcement; and it will be done right.”