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The hollowing-out of Illinois government is (still) hurting kids

Friday, Sep 24, 2021

* WGN TV

The Illinois Department of Children & Family Services has so few appropriate placements for kids that hundreds have been stranded in treatment programs and hospitals longer than is medically necessary.

“They didn’t have anywhere else to place me so I had to stay there longer and longer and longer,” explained a young woman named Morgan who said she spent several months hospitalized, on several occasions, when she was a teenager in the care of DCFS. Morgan, who is now 19, said she was treated for bipolar disorder and anger issues. We aren’t using her last name in the interest of privacy. Her situation is not unique.

The Cook County Public Guardian’s office analyzed state statistics that show in the last year 356 kids statewide were hospitalized beyond the time it was medically necessary. The average stay: 55 days longer than a doctor deemed appropriate. And 18% of the kids were 10 years old or younger. “As they keep getting put-off and put-off you’ll see a return to the negative behavior and often times they go right back to into requiring hospitalization precisely because of the disappointment,” said Heidi Dalenberg of the ACLU of Illinois.

Beginning in 2015, under former Gov. Bruce Rauner, DCFS closed 460 residential beds in Illinois with the intent of replacing them with therapeutic foster homes. However, Cook County juvenile court judge Patrick Murphy found DCFS opened less than 30 statewide, including just 10 in Cook County. In a court order, Judge Murphy quoted DCFS officials saying ‘in hindsight, this was a mistake.’

Ya think?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

7 Comments
  1. - Incandenza - Friday, Sep 24, 21 @ 10:58 am:

    This has been one of the more infuriating and heartbreaking issues in state government that can’t seem to be solved year after year. This is where DCFS needs to be empowered by legislators to barrel ahead and build/do whatever is necessary to get these kids out of these hospitals. The state they are in is actually exacerbating their disorders.


  2. - Al - Friday, Sep 24, 21 @ 11:21 am:

    Caption: result of management by press release.


  3. - Frank talks - Friday, Sep 24, 21 @ 11:22 am:

    Where is the GOP on increasing and spending more on these kids. They seem to care about the child from conception to birth then it’s good luck after that, tell your parents not to screw up. Personal responsibility and all that jazz.


  4. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Sep 24, 21 @ 11:55 am:

    I have heard from friends that DCFS has more than 600 open positions that they have yet to fill. The state hiring process is complicated, but without serious public attention and direct effort or coordination from the Governor’s office and additional resources I doubt that DCFS will be able to hire enough staff to fill those positions, much less replace those that leave from retirement or simply because they can’t or won’t do it any more.

    We can wave a finger at the Rauner administration, but at some point DCFS’s failure to achieve it’s mission because of structural issues becomes Governor Pritzker’s fault.

    Are there really 600 unfilled positions? Why are they not filled? When will they be filled? What are we doing to fill them?

    I am tired of feeling the collective responsibility for DCFS’s failures to achieve it’s mission, and we need to be putting that agency under a microscope and start firing senior staff who have created an administrative nightmare.


  5. - Huh? - Friday, Sep 24, 21 @ 1:09 pm:

    “The state hiring process is complicated, but without serious public attention and direct effort or coordination from the Governor’s office and additional resources I doubt that [Insert Agency Name] will be able to hire enough staff to fill those positions, much less replace those that leave from retirement or simply because they can’t or won’t do it any more.”

    The hiring problems aren’t limited to DCFS.


  6. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Sep 24, 21 @ 3:34 pm:

    ===Are there really 600 unfilled positions? Why are they not filled? When will they be filled? What are we doing to fill them?===

    If the positions are AFSCME, usually a position is filled … by hiring someone off from promotional / lateral transfer lists, which merely shifts the unfilled position between job titles. And with posting times, etc., to truly reduce vacancies in certain job titles can take upwards of a year.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 24, 21 @ 3:48 pm:

    === Beginning in 2015, under former Gov. Bruce Rauner, DCFS closed 460 residential beds in Illinois with the intent of replacing them with therapeutic foster homes. However, Cook County juvenile court judge Patrick Murphy found DCFS opened less than 30 statewide, including just 10 in Cook County. In a court order, Judge Murphy quoted DCFS officials saying ‘in hindsight, this was a mistake.===

    While hindsight is important for context, governors own, and this is a continuation of hurting. Today.


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