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DCFS blinks, rescinds layoffs

Friday, Oct 12, 2012

* After telling legislators that his planned staff cuts were focused on preventing deaths and not the well-being of kids (“Well-being is nice, but death is what lands in the papers”) DCFS Director Richard Calica has at least tentatively rescinded plans to lay off hundreds of workers and avoid major service and program cuts

DCFS had planned to lay off 375 employees, the result of a $50 million cut to its budget by the General Assembly. The layoffs were to take effect Oct. 1, but DCFS spokesman Dave Clarkin said none of the layoffs took effect.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents DCFS workers, said a paperwork glitch delayed the layoffs.

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said the union was in a bargaining session with DCFS Thursday over the planned layoffs when the announcement was made.

“AFSCME members and DCFS employees are extremely relieved that the Quinn administration has responded to the very real and serious concerns workers raised about the harm these cuts would cause to kids,” Lindall said.

However, he said it is too early for the union to comment on the agreement DCFS said it needs from the union for the reorganization plan to work.

* More

The seniority-based layoffs were expected to begin this month. DCFS officials said that if the money is restored, the agency through a reorganization plan could beef up its child-protection investigative unit by 138 workers and reduce caseloads to below the mandated ratio of about 12 cases to 1 worker.

In June, Gov. Pat Quinn pushed to stave off the layoffs by diverting some savings from his plan to close some state prison facilities. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents DCFS and prison employees, argues that the prison closings are unsafe and suggests looking elsewhere for the money.

Though state revenues have increased beyond projections, lawmakers such as Rep. Sara Feigenholtz said so have Illinois’ bills. The North Side Democrat said that while lawmakers still have many questions for Calica to ensure the money isn’t wasted, their ongoing discussions are encouraging.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - carbaby - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 10:30 am:

    This was the statement yesterday on D-net from Calica- “At Governor Quinn’s direction, I am announcing today that we are revoking the layoff plan, and will proceed with a material reorganization to properly staff our front line positions and provide you with the supports you need in the field.”
    That does not say temporarily rescinded but does say the following: “This change of course will require the General Assembly to reallocate funding, as well as a vacancy agreement with the union. Subject to those two developments, the result would be that no DCFS employees would be laid off, and only minimal displacement of employees would occur.”
    My understanding late yesterday is that there are going to also be 96 new Intact positions created statewide to handle “high-risk” intact families(so the new Intact criteria is going to be changed to accomodate), in addition to many other newly created positions that will be coming under permanency specialists, increased adoptions and licensing positions, and an entire unit downstate to process consents like the one in Cook County. Of course there were already several newly created positions and new layers of administrative postiions over the last six months that were not previously there. There are also several staff from Jess McDonald’s administration, some in Deputy positions as well as many in Springfield under the radar but very well known to staff there.

    This is all in anticipation(on a wing and a prayer) that $25 million will be restored to personnel services from the $27 million cut. I’m curious where that money will be dug up from.
    I will suffice it to say that this has yet again caused quite the chaos for staff statewide. The Department is now on Plan D and may need to come up with another contingency plan if things do not work out as planned.

  2. - RNUG - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 10:46 am:

    I had heard months ago this was coming after the November election. Issue must have gotten too hot and decided it needed to be done now.

  3. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    Calica’s not inspiring a lot of confidence that he has a real game plan there.

  4. - truthteller - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 1:15 pm:

    After throwing Medicaid recipients under the bus, one would think that Feigenholtz would be the champion of restored funding.As someone who presents herself as a spear-carrier for human services, she has certainly been a disappointment as chair of human service appropriations. Maybe Madigan will appoint a stronger advocate for the poor and the vulnerable.They need one.

  5. - cassandra - Friday, Oct 12, 12 @ 4:40 pm:

    Calica, appointed by Quinn in December, has so far accomplished little except to bring on some expensive contractors including former DCFS director Jess McDonald and some members of McDonald’s former staff, replace unionized managers with appointed assistant regional managers-often at considerable increases in salary, propose large pay increases for selected executives, and propose a reorganization that sounded sensible but most of which hasn’t happened yet and may never happen-it’s up to AFSCME, it seems. Employees quoted in the press have claimed that their caseloads have not declined, as promised by Calica in order to head off an ACLU lawsuit, apparently because nobody has moved yet, not even the employees who were to be laid off into other jobs where they were needed. And was it necessary to put hundreds of employees through a protracted job loss threat because Calica and his boss Quinn were having a fight with some legislators. How might that be affecting those employees’ job performance. If they even have work to do given the delays in moving staff and the wholesale shipping of intact cases to the private sector by Calica, at considerable expense.

    In other words, the well-compensated Calica and some agency elites and contractors have profited but not the kids and the employees–they’re pretty much in the same situation they always were, if not worse.

    DCFS always seems to have problems, but under the Quinn/Calica admin, those problems don’t seem to be going away.

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