Family Advocacy Group Urges U.S. Government to Reject DCFS Plan to Cut Social Services

Families with at-risk children over the age of 6 no longer eligible for support under policy directive

Nov 15, 2012, 11:45 ET from Family Defense Center

CHICAGO, Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Family Defense Center (FDC), a legal advocacy group that defends families who have been wrongly separated by state child welfare authorities, has asked the federal government to block a policy directive by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to eliminate social service programs for thousands of children at risk of abuse and neglect.

Under the new policy, families that have not been previously investigated by the state whose youngest child is over age 6 will no longer be eligible for support services.

In a 17-page complaint filed Thursday morning with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the FDC accuses DCFS of violating its contractual obligation to assist all children in need and of endangering federal funding that supports foster care and adoption assistance services across Illinois.

"DCFS has an obligation to protect children from abuse and neglect and to keep families intact when it is safe to do so," said FDC Executive Director Diane L. Redleaf. "This plan tears a gaping hole in the heart of the state's commitment to children and families."

Diane Redleaf will be available to answer questions about the HHS complaint via conference call on Thursday at 1 p.m. (Central Standard Time) Email or to receive dial-in information to participate in the call.

In August, DCFS laid off 297 employees under the new budget-cutting policy directive.  While across-the-board layoffs were rescinded following union negotiations, DCFS intact services case worker positions were not restored. Most have been reassigned to investigator positions.

Both federal and state law contains numerous requirements directing DCFS to provide coordinated services to families to prevent abuse and neglect, and to avoid family separation.

"From now on, the state will have only two options:  Do nothing, except label a child 'abused' or 'neglected,' or take the children from their parents and put them into foster care. The humane alternative—and the one both federal and state law demands—will be gone for most children coming to DCFS' attention who are over the age of 6," said Redleaf. 

Media contact T. Shawn Taylor, Treetop Consulting, | 312.371.6260, or Diana Hansen, | 312-251-9800.



SOURCE Family Defense Center