* 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(“Well-being is nice, but death is what lands in the papers”) DCFS Director Richard Calica has at least tentatively rescinded plans to lay off hundreds of workers and avoid major service and program cuts…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.
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.