Woodstock – House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has appointed State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) to the Task Force on Strengthening Child Welfare Workforce. The bipartisan Task Force was created in response to reports of high turnover rates for DCFS caseworkers and is composed of members from the General Assembly, Executive Branch officials, including from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), public and private child welfare agencies.
“The greatest responsibility of State government is to guarantee the safety of its citizens, which begins with protecting at-risk children,” said Rep. Reick. “Mismanagement, chronic budget woes and lapse of established protocols have plagued DCFS for years, contributing to the deaths of many children who should’ve been removed from dangerous homes and put into protective environments. We need look no further than the tragedy surrounding the death of A.J. Freund here in McHenry County to see that the situation at DCFS has spun out of control. It is my hope that this task force will begin to find solutions to some of the many issues that plague DCFS so we can ensure the safety of all children with high quality, experienced child welfare workers.”
According to state statute, the Task Force, authorized under Public Act 100-879, and amended by Public Act 101-268 was established “to study the compensation and workload of child welfare workers to determine the role that compensation and workload play in the recruitment and retention of child welfare workers, and to determine the role that staff turnover plays in achieving safety and timely permanency for children.”
“This task force isn’t going to fix all the problems at DCFS.” said Rep. Reick. “It’s just one part of the larger job of reforming an agency that’s lost its bearings, both in terms of its mission and the means by which that mission is accomplished. The agency was given millions in new funding in the recent budget; it’s important that those millions be put where they will do the most good, which is protecting children.”
The Task Force is required to submit a preliminary report to the General Assembly and the Governor no later than October 1, 2020, and a final report, along with proposed legislation on the issue, by January 1, 2021.