* Press release…
Children’s Home & Aid works every day to help children and families to thrive. Our deep commitment to their success is fueled by an equally strong commitment to delivering services in a sustainable way. We tackle challenges and do our best to meet the needs in light of the community dynamic, resources, etc. However, there are times when we face hard decisions that call for downsizing or in some situations, program exits. This is just such a time.
Effective immediately, we have started the process of phasing out foster care and intact family services in the Central Region.
The current child welfare environment in the Central Region has posed increasingly difficult challenges and it is clear that our foster care and intact family services are not sustainable for us in Bloomington, Champaign and the surrounding communities.
This difficult decision will impact 19 staff members. We have asked Central region child welfare staff to stay with us to help ensure the smoothest possible transitioning of 170 foster care cases and 11 intact families to other community-based providers. We anticipate completing this process by the end of May.
Children’s Home & Aid has started the process of working with DCFS to transition the families to another agency, [Jassen Strokosch, the agency’s director of communications] said. […]
The two programs are funded by the state but there has been no rate reimbursement increase in two decades, Strokosch said. Children’s Home & Aid has been covering the difference.
“In the last three years, we have averaged losing $150,000 a year on foster care and intact family services,” he said. “We’re losing too much money providing the services … That’s not sustainable.”
In addition, the low reimbursement makes it difficult to attract and retain quality staff, he said.
* Illinois Collaboration on Youth…
When providers are unable to pay enough in wages and benefits to attract and retain a qualified workforce, it is ultimately the children, youth, and families who suffer.
Not only does high workforce turnover divert resources away from service provision toward recruitment and training, it negatively impacts the very people who are supposed to benefit from this work. For example, everyone agrees that children and youth are best raised in permanent, safe, and loving homes, however, high worker turnover is strongly correlated to increased lengths of stay in the child welfare system. This constant changing of caseworkers and supervisors is an impediment to achieving that goal, whether it is to return children to their biological families, develop formal guardianship with extended kin, or find new adoptive homes for them.
From a child’s point of view, a change in caseworker is yet another time when an adult who is supposed to care for them has let them down.
Illinois was once a national leader in child welfare, but today, we rank last in the nation on important measures of child safety and permanency. For too long we have asked providers to do the impossible with shockingly insufficient funding. We cannot continue to ignore their warnings. The child welfare workforce does difficult and demanding work. They deserve to be fairly compensated for it, and to receive adequate supervision and training so they can do their jobs well.
Providers need an emergency rate increase to stop the bleeding. We are seeking approximately $37 million with HB2524/SB1730 to help address the historic underfunding and begin to turn this system around.
But, yeah, let’s do across-the-board state budget cuts. Right.