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Special master appointed for DCFS

Friday, Nov 30, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here. From the Illinois Collaboration on Youth

U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso today appointed a special master to oversee the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ implementation of the BH v. Walker consent decree. The ACLU of Illinois requested the court take this action back in June, and now the Court has accepted the ACLU recommendation.

The parties were in court today to address the crisis of Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, where patients, including children, have made allegations of sexual assault and abuse. This follows other well-documented problems plaguing DCFS, including children remaining in psychiatric hospitals beyond medical necessity, facility closures due to inadequate funding, and a growing intake in response to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

“It’s been apparent to us for a long time that the Illinois child welfare system is in crisis. The child welfare system is charged with stepping in to keep children and youth safe and stable when there are allegations of abuse or neglect, and to work expeditiously to address the child’s trauma, and either stabilize the family so they can be reunified, or identify a permanent loving home for that child,” said Andrea Durbin, Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth. “For the past 20 years, we have seen a systematic disinvestment in the child welfare system that has led to this crisis today. The State of Illinois has done little to turn this around, refusing to provide adequate resources to support the most basic levels of service. As a result, children and youth languish in care, and Illinois ranks worst in the nation for permanency rates.”

“The situation is not sustainable. Illinois has a legal responsibility to address the complex needs of children who have suffered trauma, abuse, and neglect, and today the Court recognized that extreme measures are needed to ensure that children and youth receive the services they deserve,” Durbin added.

ICOY providers stand ready to assist in rebuilding the Illinois child welfare system so that children and youth are safe, healthy, and living with loving families that are able to care for them.

Meanwhile, the federal government will terminate Medicare funding for Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.

Also, Illinois has more than just a “legal responsibility to address the complex needs of children who have suffered trauma, abuse, and neglect.” It has an absolute moral responsibility. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our state.


  1. - Ga. Dawg - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:38 pm:

    Do we know who the special master will be? Or did I miss something? Did the judge just agree to do it, but has not yet named him/her (agency) ?

  2. - Earnest - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    It remains a sad fact that improvements in Illinois services for these children, for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities, have mostly happened due to legal actions, not through any sort of political leadership.

  3. - wordslinger - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:03 pm:

    –These are some of the most vulnerable people in our state.–

    Thanks to the better angels of our nature like the good folks at the ACLU who mix it up in the ring every day for the most vulnerable among us.

  4. - Wondering Wendy - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:13 pm:

    Agree Earnest. The state will only do what it is forced to do………neither party has done right by the disabled or children. Some talk a good talk, but don’t walk the walk.

  5. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:21 pm:

    === The State of Illinois has done little to turn this around, refusing to provide adequate resources to support the most basic levels of service. ===

    Okay, but how many times have lawmakers been approached by Andrea’s colleagues asking for more funding for child welfare or other human services, and when asked by lawmakers if their organization supports a tax hike, been told “No.”

    Thousands, I bet.

    The advocates are correct that we need more funding for more services, but that cannot happen without more revenue, and that is gonna mean a graduated income tax, and the leaders in the nonprofit world are gonna have to get their boards behind that.

  6. - Kyle Hillman - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 2:50 pm:

    It is absolutely devastating that reform after reform, administration after administration we cant seem to get this right.

    We have a Herculean task ahead of us - the challenges here are a lot bigger than I think most people understand. This needs to be one of the administration’s priorities as we shouldn’t be governing via the courts and these kids shouldn’t have to wait for someone to care.

  7. - Andrea Durbin - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:06 pm:

    @Thomas Paine, your conjecture is wrong. I e vocally supported increased revenue during the budget impasae and we are supportive of a progressive income tax structure now.

    Rich, I agree with you about the moral imperative. Unfortunately it seems only the legal imperative gets any action.

  8. - Kyle Hillman - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 3:20 pm:

    Also to echo Andrea - a lot of us advocates have boards who have been supporting a progressive income tax. Infact our board (NASW) has supported almost every nonregressive tax proposed and some. Long before knowing Ralph Marterie was cool.

    And before anyone chimes in - yes knowing Ralph is cool.

  9. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Nov 30, 18 @ 4:23 pm:

    @Andrea -

    I just reread your statement on the DCFS special master, the words “graduated income tax” are not in there.

    The Kennedy Forum sits on your board, and meanwhile Chris Kennedy was arguing we could meet the state’s vital needs with an upper income tax rate no higher that 6% — less than an additional billion a year.

    I am not singling ICOY out, and you might personally advocate for a progrssive income tax, but there’s scant evidence of the kind of sustained, large-scale, well-coordinated effort by the community that is going to be necessary for a constitutional amendment to pass.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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