Child welfare officials say they’re coping during pandemic

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Officials with private agencies that provide child welfare services on contract with DCFS said they have faced similar challenges.

Bill Steinhauser, president and CEO of Bethany for Children and Families, a social service agency that serves the Quad Cities area, said case workers at that agency are doing what they can to stay in contact with families.

“They basically are staying in contact through either FaceTime or Google Meet, but also going out, directly talking to families, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. It’s kept them all safe,” he said.

But Steinhauser noted that Illinois families have suffered unique financial and emotional strains during the pandemic, which has affected children’s welfare.

“Our families are experiencing economic stress, and also just not very familiar with being around each other all that often,” he said. “And that stress as well as economic stress are causing our families to do as any other family, which is experience dysfunction. And also they’re trying to escape from the reality of COVID-19.

“We’re also seeing an increase in substance abuse, and mental health seems to be aggravated or intensified. And those services, because of where we’re located, are difficult for many families to access.”

Monday’s hearing was considered a “subject matter” hearing only, which means the committee was not considering substantive legislation. But the information could become the basis of legislation that the General Assembly could take up during the fall veto session, which begins in November.

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via The Quad-City Times

September 15, 2020 at 06:07AM

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