CYFS CEO Urges, “Invest In Workforce Now” In Response to DCFS Chapin Hall Report Issued by
Yesterday, in a press conference releasing Chapin Hall’s report on Intact Family Services, Governor Pritzker said “Nothing is more important than protecting our most vulnerable children.” I couldn’t agree more. The death of any child moves us all – and recent reports of child deaths due to abuse have increased the focus of state legislators and child advocates. It is human nature to want answers; but blaming just one person, or just one part of the system, doesn’t move us closer to eliminating the number of children who experience repeat maltreatment.
Systemic change is what Chapin Hall is recommending. They looked at factors at all levels of the system – including the experience and skills of the professionals serving the family; factors like caseloads, supervision, training; and factors such as resources, funding, policies, technology, and decision making authority. The study identified multilevel opportunities for improvement.
None of these necessary systemic improvements are possible if we do not adequately fund the work. The entire system – not just intact services – is in crisis. Agencies that contract with the state for intact, foster care, and residential treatment are experiencing an unprecedented workforce crisis. Bottom line – they cannot attract enough staff to fill the needed positions to ensure kids are safe. Chapin Hall suggests that DCFS redesign contracts to promote staff retention and ensure effective caseload ratios. Provider agencies have been advocating for years for rate adjustments that allow them to keep kids safe given the current level of complexity and severity of cases. The investment has deteriorated for two decades. When the state budget is finalized later this month — our legislators must ensure that rate increases are included and that a fair rate setting methodology is put in place to prevent such an erosion from happening again in the future.
Lots of folks are out there fighting to make the system better, restore families, and keep kids safe. Together we can rebuild Illinois’ reputation as a leader in child welfare.
Tricia C. Fox
Chief Executive Officer
The Center for Youth and Family Solutions