Following a report that showed numerous problems with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that actions are already being taken to rectify them.
A report focusing on how DCFS’ Intact Family Services unit functions was ordered by Pritzker following the deaths of several children with connections to the agency. The services are given to families investigated by DCFS but are still allowed to have custody of their children.
Intact provides services to almost 5,000 Illinois families with nearly 12,000 children.
One of the main findings of the report, done by the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall, showed DCFS workers were motivated to avoid removing children from their parents, even when there was evidence of abuse or neglect.
In response, DCFS director Marc Smith said the agency has to come together to ensure a culture of safety.
“We don’t want there to be a culture of making decisions to take children. We don’t want there to be a culture of making decisions to leave children home,” he said. “We want the culture to be making decisions based on what’s best for the individual child and family.”
Pritzker said the report revealed “longstanding structural, procedural and cultural issues” in the agency.
“These challenges are the result of many years of misguided decisions, underdeveloped program rollouts and unacceptable funding cuts,” Pritzker said. “There is nowhere in Illinois government that has been more hollowed out than DCFS, and there’s nowhere in state government where those cuts have done more damage.”
DCFS is carrying out a review of 1,100 open investigations and launching a crisis intervention team. The team will be called into “immediate action” to study cases where a child has died.
“They will review the full scope of the agency’s work in these cases, as well as other cases, handled by those involved,” Pritzker said. “Importantly, they’ll provide recommendations to how we can prevent similar potential tragedies in the future.”
Pritzker said the plan is part of a larger, “multi-pronged” approach to re-imagining DCFS.
“This agency and the children under its care were neglected for years,” he said. “That changes right now.”
Smith said the recommendations in the report serve as a guide to change.
The nine recommendations outlined in the report include refining protocol for closing Intact cases, improving the quality of supervision and restructuring preventive services.
“I want to be clear: We will be adopting every recommendation in this report with as much expediency as possible,” the governor said. “Much of the work is already underway. Some will be completed over the next several weeks; responses to other recommendations require plans that need to be developed.”
This isn’t the first study that criticized the DCFS this month. The auditor general last week reported the agency did not always follow proper procedures and lacked timeliness when conducting abuse and neglect investigations from 2015 to 2017.
Illinois Collaboration on Youth Chief Executive Officer Andrea Durbin said in a statement the group appreciates the analysis by Chapin Hall.
“It is important to remember that taking children from their families can have lasting negative effects and is a very serious step that should be considered when a child’s safety is paramount. We should also remember that while Intact is an important piece of the child welfare system, it is not the only piece,” she said. “The system needs focused attention across all levels of care in order to achieve long term stability.”
Contact Cassie Buchman: 782-3095, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/cjbuchman.
Region: Springfield,Feeds,State,Politics,Central,City: Springfield,Region: Central
via State Government News – The State Journal-Register http://bit.ly/2GxsTCh
May 15, 2019 at 04:44PM