Last month, Illinois saw the lowest number of children removed from their parent’s custody and placed into foster care since 1987. The reduction in foster care, which costs the state about $32,000 per year per child, is largely due to the success of state-provided assistance called intact family services, which provides counseling and rehabilitation services to families throughout Illinois.
However, due to budget cuts, funding for the program will be greatly reduced in the coming months, leaving thousands of Illinois children at risk.
Last year, 4,639 families received intact family services, which provided help with anger management, alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation as well as training for parenting skills. Despite the importance of those services, the Department of Children and Family Services laid off over 375 workers to cut payroll costs. The DCFS also tightened up the criteria for applicants receiving the services.
Now, a family must have a child under the age of 6 years old, or have at least six previous reports of abuse or neglect. Private companies contracted by DCFS will serve families that qualify under the new criteria.
Many critics of the budget cut are concerned about the outcome these changes will have on the children. These new criteria come after a time when Illinois DCFS was in the spotlight for child deaths, failure to conduct timely inspections and an understaffed child abuse hotline.
The director of DCFS argues that the budget cuts may end up costing the state more than it saves, especially if children are removed from the family home and placed in foster care. Another DCFS worker had this to say: “We’ll have no choice but to remove a lot more children from their homes, and we won’t be leading the nation anymore. We’ll be going backward big time.”
Illinois parents who have child custody concerns will want to keep an eye on this developing situation.
If you have questions about child custody and visitation rights, feel free to stop by our Chicagoland child custody site. Our firm handles child custody issues for Illinois residents.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “DCFS cuts may force more kids into foster care,” Bill Ruthhart, Sept. 4, 2012