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*** UPDATED x1 *** Our sorry state

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018

* ProPublica report last month

In the spring of 2016, a 12-year-old named Gabriel Brasfield spent 3 ½ months in a psychiatric hospital in Chicago. His hair, which he liked to wear cropped, grew long and unkempt. He forgot what it felt like to wear shoes because he was allowed to wear only hospital socks. He missed months of school, and couldn’t go outside. He celebrated his 13th birthday at the hospital, where he said the walls were bare and there was little to do.

And for eight weeks of those 3 ½ months, he didn’t even need to be there.

Doctors had agreed Brasfield was ready to be discharged about six weeks after he arrived, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which is his legal guardian, couldn’t find anywhere for him to go.

Brasfield is one of hundreds of children in the care of DCFS who are held each year inside psychiatric hospitals for weeks or months, even though they have been cleared to leave, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found.

Instead of moving on to a foster home or residential treatment center — a less restrictive facility where children attend school and lead more normal lives — these children have languished in secure mental health facilities, the consequence of the child welfare agency’s failure to find them appropriate placements.

* So, DCFS has decided to place kids in other states to get them out of the psychiatric hospitals. There’s a problem, however

Illinois is ramping up efforts to place children under its care in other states to prevent them from having to stay in mental institutions longer than necessary, but some providers in other states won’t take the kids because of Illinois’ poor record of payment.

Recent controversies over Illinois’ youth-in-care being locked up in mental health facilities longer than they need to be has led to a state push to place these kids in other states, officials said Monday. This, they said, is a better alternative to spending longer periods in an institution. […]

Placement of a child outside of the state may not always sound like an ideal alternative, but in Southeastern Illinois, placement just across the border in the Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Village is closer than a facility in Chicago. Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Village, however, won’t take in children from Illinois.

“Our reluctance in pursuing a contract is really related to the delays in payment that appear to be systemic with the state of Illinois,” said Lynne Rump, director at the facility. “For us to incur delays in payment really places pressure on our cash flow.” […]

Further north, Jane Dobbins, executive director of Group Homes for Children, a group home for teenage girls in Lafayette, Indiana, said the organization was currently at capacity, but would likely decline a request by the state of Illinois due to its history of delaying payment to service providers for weeks, or even months.


*** UPDATE *** Foster Care Alumni of America Illinois Chapter…

We are sadden to hear that still to this day instead of working with providers in Illinois, the Department of Children and Family Services is using the out of State option in placing our kids. Other states are seeing what Illinois providers have gone through and are making the decisions that many providers have made during the last 3 years. We as an organization that would allow these captive young adults a private right of action against the department last legislative session. However The union was against it and some of the Democrats along with Republicans did not feel like it did anything.

Another point is that the Department is spewing this narrative about the majority of these cases are new cases. This is simply not true. We have been FOIA’ing this data on a weekly bases and this is simply not the case. We will release an official end of fiscal year report soon The majority of the Beyond Medical Need youth in care are already under the Departments custody.

Until the Department truly addresses this issue in an honest fashion, Illinois will continue fail our most at risk young people.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Smitty Irving - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 2:27 pm:

    Crisis creates leverage …

  2. - Langhorne - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 2:31 pm:

    I am not in charge. These things happen.

  3. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 2:34 pm:

    It’s going to take a decade of good governing to repair the damage caused by Bruce Rauner.

    He not just wreck our state, he bought and then wrecked the only party countering Democrats.

    Rauner has been worse for ILGOP than anything Madigan did in a generation.

  4. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 2:45 pm:

    Vanilla Man: I am not a fan of BR in any manner whatsoever. That said, DCFS probs started long before he arrived on the scene.

  5. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 3:11 pm:

    Heck of a way to run a railroad.

    @Anonymous @2:45- these issues are directly related to the state’s payment issues from the impasses not the general historical dysfunction of DCFS. So yeah, this one is on Rauner and we know that because he said so during the last campaign.

  6. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 3:14 pm:

    Anon 2:34 pm is right. Seems to me I remember a scandal decades ago involving DCFS wards placed in Texas having to be brought back suddenly. A lot of them went back home to the parents from whose care they had been removed, I believe,that being the only real option. Leaving aside Rauner, is a problem of this duration and magnitude really DCFS’ fault. Couldn’t we say we are all complicit.

  7. - Happily Retired - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 3:23 pm:

    Cassandra is right. Shuttling kids to Texas in the 70’s did not end well. Just asking, but aren’t more than a few out of state placement slots being filled with kids taken by ICE at the border?

  8. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 3:26 pm:

    Folks, this has been a problem for in state providers for years in many social service circles. IT is not just Rauner, it is the entire political class that treats social services as a second class group of state vendors. We get paid inadequate rates that are paid consistently late and then forced to spend inordinate amounts of time completing meaningless compliance paperwork. This is not a defense of Rauner, rather it is a plea to hold all responsible for this mess accountable.

  9. - Andrea Durbin - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 3:40 pm:

    Illinois can succeed at child welfare, but we need the proper investment to do so. Providers have gone 16 of the past 18 years without rate increases, which has directly led to a shortage of beds in the state. When a provider has to supplement state funding by nearly $1 million a year just to keep the doors open, the program operating in a safe manner, and at a level of quality that will get results, that is not sustainable. DCFS itself has documented more than 650 beds lost since 2012 in residential treatment centers, group homes, transitional living facilities, and independent living arrangements.

    Here is one example of a provider that tried for years to make the finances work:

    It won’t get better unless we make a dedicated, focused effort to invest in this work. Otherwise, expect more stories like this one.

  10. - Kyle Hillman - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 3:46 pm:

    It is also just an awful policy and one my office is fighting against. The solution is developing specialized foster placements in Illinois not shipping our kids to other states. (Which is already happening.)

    Not only do we no longer have direct oversight of the child, but we completely cut the positive ties that child might still have in the community or in their family.

    It is frankly the opposite of what we should be doing.

  11. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 4:37 pm:

    This is a problem where throwing money at it might work. DCFS knows what to do, but not the resources.

  12. - fedup - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 4:38 pm:

    The DCFS director recently told a group of private agency staff that she will not pursue a rate increase for private agencies since the Department has returned surpluses to the state the last couple years.

    So Ms. Walker too is willing to blame what is happening now on those past and not do what she can and needs to do to support an already capable private-agency network here in Illinois.

  13. - Pavetheway - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 6:04 pm:

    Andrea Durbin could not have said it better. And - it is time for us all to take greater ownership - legislators, voters, service providers, government entities and all citizens. The issue is SYSTEMIC. Over the last 18 years, our state’s investment in the private agencies who provide these services has deteriorated drastically – including this past spring when a long overdue rate increase for foster parents or service providers was not included in the FY19 budget. Collectively, we just don’t make it enough of a priority. Mission driven providers, have been too quiet, trying to do more with less, caught in a catch 22 – and the kids pay the price. Turning this ship around is doable – but it is realistically going to take some time, some money, a lot of leadership and then (and this is critical in Illinois) opportunity for the changes to gain traction. And honestly - it is going to take the help of more people who care – these kids can’t continue to be political pawns. It really isn’t only DCFS and the legislator’s problem to fix. If you made a donation or volunteered at a foster care agency last year or called your legislator to let them know you as a tax-payer would support a long overdue rate increase – then consider yourself part of the movement toward change. If not …there is still time – but every day matters in the life of a child.

  14. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 8:40 pm:

    Fact is - Rauner made a bad situation - far worse.

    He didn’t start it, ran against it, then made it worse.

  15. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jul 17, 18 @ 8:57 pm:

    @Vman- perfectly stated.

  16. - Anon - Wednesday, Jul 18, 18 @ 12:14 am:

    FCAA desperately needs spell check or someone to edit their statements… wow

  17. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 19, 18 @ 8:00 am:

    anon at 12:14
    Really? Wow.
    The Titanic is sinking and and you notice the second violin is a bit off key as the band plays “Nearer my God to Thee.”

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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