Objectives and Outcome Measures

There were 21 Objectives set forth in the FY97-99 Child and Family Services Plan. Progress toward these Objectives was assessed using outcome measures developed in Child & Family Outcome Measures, Regional Management Agreements Data Book, Caseload Tracking Monthly Update, and the Report on Outcomes for Children who are the Responsibility of the Department of Children and Family Services.

For the Final Review statistical period FY95 to FY99, 16 of these CFSP Objectives showed improvements in their outcome measures; one Objective showed a performance decline in its outcome measure; and four Objectives were primarily process objectives for which measures and data development, e.g., baseline data from the 1997 and 1998 Foster Parent Survey, are under consideration. The measures citing percentages reflect the first six to ten months of FY99. Those measures citing cumulative totals are the estimates for the end of FY99 based on current trends.

Objectives with Improved Outcome Measures

Objective 1.1: Respond quickly and competently to reports of abuse and neglect.

In FY94 the percent of child protective investigations initiated within 24 hours was 97.6% and increased to 99.3% in FY98. It continued at that level in FY99. Investigations completed within 60 days increased from 82.4 % in FY94 to 90.3% in FY98. There was a further improvement in investigation completions to 93.4% in FY99.

Action Steps under this Objective included the implementation of an improved screening system at the hotline; locating DCP teams in the areas they serve in Cook County; monitoring investigators’ compliance with CERAP protocol, investigation initiation within 24 hours, and investigation completion within 60 days; work with Child Advocacy Advisory Boards to improve coordination; identification of systemic problems and implementation of system changes related to child deaths; improve coordination with Child Advocacy Centers and Child Death Review Teams; and staff training in client engagement skills to enhance decision-making.

Objective 1.2: Prevent recurrence of abuse and neglect.--The percent of child victims with no new indicated CA/N Report in six months increased from 86.5% in FY94 to 89.8% in FY99. The percent of Indicated Subsequent Oral Reports decreased from 47.5% in FY95 to 44.8% in FY99.

Action Steps under this Objective included the analysis of Subsequent Oral Reports in relation to CERAP plans by the Office of Quality Assurance; the development of performance standards for intact services, support for prevention activities like FCS and Citizen to Citizen, and monitoring the completion of CERAP?s for all cases in accordance with established protocols by the Division of Child Protection; and the training of intact services staff in techniques for cooperative planning with families by the Division of Clinical Services.

Objective 1.3: Increase the percentage of children reported to be abused or neglected who can safely remain at home or safely be reunified with their families.--In the first 3 years of implementation, the Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) helped produce a reduction of 28.6% in recurrences of maltreatment to children in the 60 days immediately following initial assessment. When the pre-CERAP data was compared to the three years following implementation, the rate of recurrence of abuse or neglect to children has decreased by more than 34%. Indicated reports of abuse or neglect for children in Department custody and living in the home of parent decreased from 3.7% in FY94 to 2.1% in FY97.

In the first half of the 1990's reunifications were static most years and actually decreased by 15% between FY93 and FY94. Therefore, while more children entered the substitute care system each year, a decreasing percentage exited the system through reunification. This trend was reversed when reunifications as a percent of intake increased from 44.9% in FY97 to 52.2% in FY98. Reunifications increased from 3,923 in FY94 to 4,599 reunifications in FY98. The Department estimates that 5,000 children will be reunified with their families in FY99.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the integration of investigations and intake services management in Cook County, development of policy/handbook reflecting intact services standards, and development of protocols for use of LANs in front-end services by the Division of Child Protection; and the development and implementation of assessment and planning protocols, training and technical assistance to staff on family reunification policy and practice by the Division of Clinical Services.

Objective 1.4: Increase safety of children in relative and non-relative foster care. --The percent of wards not indicated for CA/N while under the Department’scare increased from 97.4% in FY95 to 98.9% in FY99. Trend data show the percent of wards indicated for CA/N was cut by more than half from 2.6% in FY95 to 1.1% in FY99. Specific trends show a decrease in indicated reports of abuse or neglect for children in relative care from 1.9% in FY93 to 1.4% in FY97 and for children in specialized foster care from 2.2% in FY93 to 1.7% in FY97. Indicated reports of abuse or neglect decreased for children in family foster care from 2.7% in FY96 to 2.5% in FY97.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the updating of the relative checklist which is completed prior to placement and the completion of CANTS checks and LEADS checks in a timely manner by the Division of Child Protection; and improving communications between DCP and Licensing, completing licensure renewals of foster homes in a timely manner, and the completion of fingerprinting in a timely manner by the Office of Licensing.

Objective 1.5: Improve staff ability to assess and respond effectively to children and families at risk.--The percent of Indicated Subsequent Oral Reports decreased from 47.5% in FY95 to 44.8% in FY99. Comparing the eight-month periods of July 1, 1996 through February 28, 1997 and July 1, 1997 through February 28, 1998, there was a 7% reduction in subsequent oral reports and a 32% reduction in indicated oral reports. A study presented to the General Assembly in May 1999 found that in the 3 years after implementation of CERAP, recurrences of maltreatment to children cumulatively dropped 28.6%. Comparing data from pre-CERAP implementation to the data from the past three years, the American Humane Association found that rates of recurring maltreatment of children in the 60 days immediately following DCFS initial assessment decreased by more than 34%.

The Children and Family Research Center found that when no CERAP was completed within five days of a report, the likelihood of a recurrence of maltreatment was more than two and a half times higher. Having more than four family problems identified increased the odds of children being reinjured by almost three times, while having an unsafe CERAP judgment almost doubled the odds of a second indicated report within 60 days.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the evaluation of the validity of the Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol by the Children and Family Research Center; the initiation of evaluation-based enhancements to CERAP and the development of competency-based job descriptions by the Division of Child Protection; and updating training to correspond with CERAP enhancements by the Division of Clinical Services.

Objective 1.6: Decrease the number of children from intact family service cases who are abused or must be placed outside the home.--The percent of families served intact with no indicated CA/N report while open increased from 73.2% in FY94 to 76.7% in FY99. The percent of family cases opened intact that remained intact at least six months increased from 90.1% in FY94 to 93.6% in FY98 and the percent of intact families closed that remained closed for at least six months increased from 89.6% in FY94 to 91.5% in FY98.

Actions Steps involved in this Objective included the integration of front-end, intact, placement, and reunification services and implementation of the DCP pre-screening protocol prior to temporary custody hearing by the Division of Child Protection.

Objective 1.7: Decrease the rate of child abuse by improving preventive programs.--In FY95, the Department received a record number of abuse and neglect reports—77,084. The number of reports decreased by about 8% in FY96, dropping to 70,740. Report volume decreased to 68,120 in FY97 and 65,883 in FY98. For the period FY93 to FY98, the highest indicated rate was in FY95, which was also the peak year for report volume—377,467 calls to the State Central Register Hotline. The indicated rate for child victims, which was 38.2% in FY95, decreased to 33.6% in FY99.

General prevention programs were transferred to the DHS on July 1, 1997. The remaining Department prevention programs focus on families with whom there is existing contact. Although success in meeting this objective is tied to the prevention of reabuse, the Department also funds grant programs that provide the following early prevention services: parenting classes, home visits, parent support group meetings, reinforcement of positive cultural practices, paternal involvement of non-custodial fathers, crisis nurseries, respite care, and child abuse awareness campaigns such as Never Shake a Baby, Back To Sleep, and Mother’s Boyfriend.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the revision of LAN guidelines, integration of regional LAN implementation plans, development of expeditious fiscal and support processes for LAN services, expansion of LANs Work Group to regional Co-conveners, development/revision of LAN operational protocols, improvement of LAN organization and participation, development of an expedited WRAP process, and the implementation of ongoing WRAP training for each DCFS region by the Division of Operations and Community Services; the support of Family Centered Services and other prevention activities in targeted, high-risk communities and reports on FCS programs by the Division of Child Protection; the evaluation of FCS programs by the Children and Family Research Center; and the support of the Extended Family Support Program for at-risk children living with relatives by the Office of Litigation Management.

Objective 2.1: Increase percentage of children able to remain or be reunified with their families. --The percent of families served intact with no indicated CA/N report while open increased from 73.2% in FY94 to 76.7% in FY99. The percent of children returned home that remained at home for at least six months increased from 85.7% in FY94 to 91.2% in FY98. FY99 data on this outcome measure is still pending.

The percent of family cases that were opened as intact families increased from 71.8% in FY94 to 77.2% in FY99. However, the actual number of intact family cases decreased for the first time during FY96. The downward trend in actual intact caseload continued in FY97 and during FY98. The end of year intact family caseload was 14,565 in FY96. On March 31, 1999, there were only 9,022 in the intact family caseload, a nearly 40% decrease. The number of families currently open that were always served intact is 5,179. Front-End Redesign and better caseload management, including review of intact family cases open for more than one year, has contributed to the decline in the intact family population.

The Department’s success at limiting intake into the front-end of the system masked some noteworthy improvement in reunification efforts in FY98. When intake declines, the anticipated number of children reunified will decrease as well. Intake did decrease significantly from FY97 to FY98 resulting in reduced numbers of reunifications. However, as a proportion of intake, reunification actually increased in FY98 from 44.9% to 52.2%.

The number of children placed outside the homes of their parents grew by 51% between the end of FY93 and the end of FY96. Then in FY97, the child placement caseload remained relatively constant. FY98 brought the first decline to the child substitute care caseload in this decade, with the trend continuing in FY99. The substitute care caseload as of May 1999 had decreased by 18.7% from the peak in FY97.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included further development of partnerships to increase family stabilization services; training on cash and housing assistance and DHS programs; revision of Clinical Practices Training to reflect best practices for permanency; develop and implement reunification policy based on sound family preservation principles; technical training and assistance to staff, foster parents, and community members on family reunification policy/practice; increase utilization of expedited DHS programs for families whose children can be returned home quickly; quality assurance reviews of cases prior to State’s Attorney Screening; expansion of low income housing opportunities for families through interagency agreements; pilot specialized domestic violence services for victims to enable the family to stay together; training foster parents to work with birth families toward reunification; and the implementation of a legal screening protocol for all Norman-certified return home cases in Cook County.

Objective 2.3: Increase the number of adoptions.--The number of consummated adoptions increased from 1,200 in FY94 to a projected total over 4,800 by the end of FY99. FY99 is expected to be the seventh straight record year for adoptions.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the provision of training and technical assistance to staff and POS on referral to the Expedited Adoption Program and the distribution of expedited adoption procedures by the Office of Legal Services; the establishment of staff goals for caseload review and referral to EAP by the Division of Operations and Community Services; and the expansion of post-adoptive subsidy services statewide by the Division of Foster Care and Permanency Services.

Objective 2.4: Increase the number of subsidized guardianships for children for whom reunification or adoption is not possible.--Subsidized guardianship involves the transfer of guardianship from the Department to private guardians who have already been caring for the children for two or more years and is a permanency option available for children for whom reunification and adoption have been ruled out. The number of children in substitute care who have been moved to subsidized guardianship increased from 186 in FY97 to 1,115 in FY98 to an estimated total over 3,068 by the end of FY99.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the training and public education on subsidized guardianship, the provision of on-site technical assistance to private agencies, and the striving to achieve 1,500 guardianships by the Office of Litigation Management; the continuation of regional implementation teams, the submission of reports to HHS, and the selection of an evaluator for the subsidized guardianship program by the Director?s Office; and the continuation of work on automated reports and assignment to cost neutrality and demonstration by the Division of Support Services.

Objective 2.5: Decrease adoptive and foster home disruptions.--The percent of adoption placement disruption decreased from the decade high of 2.2% in FY94 to 1.0% in FY97. In FY 98, the availability of adoption preservation services was expanded to eliminate waiting lists in high demand counties and from 60 counties to all 102 counties statewide. In FY98, 2,995 children were served through Placement Stabilization Services. Of these, 2,425 both received formal services and were closed (reached the formal end of Placement Stabilization Services) within the fiscal year. While the median number of placements for children in substitute care remained at two from FY94 to FY99, the percent of children in care with less than three placements within the past six months increased from 86.0% in FY95 to 96.9% in FY98.

The performance contracting standard is no more than two disruptions per caseload for the year in FY98. As a result, the number of disruptions in Cook HMR (the first to operate under performance contracting) was cut in half, a decrease of about 1,000 moves.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the implementation of program plans with increased adoptive and foster home support activities and the implementation of protocols for recruitment, training, and support of foster and adoptive parents by the Division of Operations and Community Services; the monitoring of compliance with required timeframes for processing of licenses for foster and adoptive homes by the Office of Licensing; the development of training and support services to meet the needs of foster and adoptive parents serving special needs children and the expansion of the Adoption Preservation Program statewide with a standardized base of services available to all adopted children and their families by the Division of Foster Care and Permanency Services; and the development of additional performance contracting adoption support services with increased funding by the Director?s Office.

Objective 2.6: Increase the percentage of children placed in their home communities.--The percent of the substitute care population placed in their home LAN increased from 43.1% in FY96 to 44.3% in FY99.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the analyses to identify LANs needing additional adoptive and foster home resources, establishment of a partnership with private child welfare agencies to conduct joint recruitment activities in Cook County, the use of existing child-centered programs such as Parents as Teachers, Interfaith Partnership, Improving America?s Schools, and Local School Councils to connect with likely adoptive and foster home candidates and to facilitate better community relationships, and the expansion of downstate recruitment by the Division of Operations and Community Services; the support of Urban/Sibling Foster Care programs by the Office of Litigation Management; the establishment of partnerships with Chicago Public Schools in five high need LANs to do recruitment of foster and adoptive parents by the Division of Clinical Services; the implementation of Adoption Fairs by the Division of Foster Care and Permanency Services; the monitoring of compliance with MEPA provisions by the Office of Legal Services.

Objective 3.2: Increase the percentage of families receiving substance abuse treatment who are in need of such services.—DCFS admissions to Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (OASA) programs increased from 7,995 clients in FY95 to 11,231 clients in FY98. Almost three-fourths of Illinois children in foster care on June 1, 1997 had at least one parent who was required to undergo alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) treatment as part of the family’s service plan for reunification. The number of indicated cases of substance exposed infants decreased from 3,567 in FY94 to an eight-year low of 1,942 in FY98. Substance exposed infant (SEI) reports were one of the fastest growing categories of child abuse/neglect during the late 1980's and early 1990's.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the collaborative efforts with the Department of Human Services for DCFS clients to receive treatment, the work with DHS to improve information sharing, the examination of the need for increased residential treatment bed capacity, the improvement of communication between child welfare and treatment programs, the development of clearly defined outcomes for success, and the improvement of drug programs to make observations and recommendations on the capacity of parents to care for their children by the Division of Clinical Services.

Objective 3.5: Increase the percentage of children in care receiving appropriate educational assessments and services.— Since April 1998, approximately 600 infants and toddlers have been screened and placed in services as appropriate through the DCFS Developmental Screening Center, a collaborative project between DCFS and the Cook County Bureau of Health Services. Over the next two years, it is anticipated that an additional 3,500 in Cook County will be screened.

In the last year and a half, through a collaboration between DCFS and the Chicago Public Schools, over 2,000 children aged 3-5 have been screened and referred to services which include HeadStart, State Pre-K, and Pre-K Special Education programs. An additional 1,162 pre-school aged children have received developmental screen through collaborative projects with the Chicago Public school CHILDFIND initiative, and each child is tracked to enrollment by DCFS Early Childhood staff.

Since April 1998, 1,845 infants and toddlers have participated in the DCFS Birth to Three Services Project, receiving developmental screens at one of the Department’s four developmental screening centers. Of those seen, 54% exhibit some form of developmental delay, and each is tracked to enrollment in services to which they are referred by Project staff. Beginning in November 1998, each new case of an infant being brought into care received this service as a part of their comprehensive assessment, thereby integrating developmental needs into the initial stages of the case planning process. Project staff track each case to enrollment in a customized package of Early Childhood services designed to promote school readiness and stabilize placements. Over the next year, Project staff will propose a downstate pilot.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the development of a problem resolution process with the Chicago Public Schools and the training of DCFS and school personnel on procedures, the involvement of school personnel in LAN activities which included training on Wrap services, the development of a partnership with the Illinois State Advisory Council, the establishment of a process for on-going exchange of information regarding ward absenteeism and truancy, and the development of training on the educational rights of youth who are wards by the Division of Clinical Services; and the development and implementation of a protocol for 30 day notification for returning from out-of-state by the Division of Operations and Community Services.

Objective 3.6: Increase number of children in care receiving basic screenings, annual medical and dental examinations, and necessary follow-up services.--Trend data show an increase in the percent of children with health exams per EPSDT Annual Schedule from 65.5% in FY95 to 70.9% in FY99 and an increase in the percent of children with documented immunizations from 61.2% in FY96 to 62.5% in FY98. Most recently, the percent of children with health exams increased from 69.4% in FY 98 to 70.9% in FY99 and the percent of children with documented immunizations increased from 62.4% in FY97 to 62.5% in FY98. During FY98-99, the Department made a concentrated effort to enroll all children in HealthWorks, the Department’s medical management program, increasing the October 1997 enrollment rate of 58% to 96% in early 1999. Dental care is also available through HealthWorks.

HealthWorks of Illinois is the primary vehicle for this Objective. HealthWorks is a statewide, comprehensive health care delivery system for children in foster care. It was designed to ensure that all wards had access to quality health care, received health care services as needed, and had documentation of their health status and systems. Health services are delivered at levels of payment offered by the Department of Public Aid and are reimbursed by the state’s Medicaid program. Under HealthWorks an initial health screening is done within 24 hours of a child?s entry into protective custody (and prior to foster care placement), a comprehensive health evaluation is done within 21 days of entering temporary custody, and physical examinations are done at the ages of 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, and annually thereafter. Due to HealthWorks, no children under Department care have been turned out of school due to lack of necessary immunizations.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the submission of documentation for initial health screens on a timely basis by the Division of Child Protection; the performance of necessary follow-up on health screens; the provision of training and education for workers, relative foster parents, and management level staff, the monitoring of quality assurance measures for increasing documentation of immunizations and exams, and collaboration efforts with Chicago Public Schools to improve the health status of wards by the Division of Clinical Services.

Objective 3.8: Reduce reliance on institutional, psychiatric hospital, and out-of-state care.-- The number of children in residential placements (Independent Living Arrangements not included) decreased from 4,556 in FY95 to 2,667 in FY99; the number of children in hospitals for psychiatric reasons decreased from 106 in FY97 to a target low of less than 90 by the end of FY99; the number of children in residential placements outside of Illinois has been reduced from 784 in FY95 to 160 as of May 1999 (53 are Governor’s Youth Services Initiative non-wards).

The 23 Action Steps involved in this Objective revolved around the Strategy of improving outpatient assessment and treatment for children with special needs and increase the number of children being cared for in their own communities through Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) reform.

Objectives with Outcome Measures Showing a Decline in Performance

Objective 2.2: Decrease the length of time to achieve permanency.

The Department is implementing a number of initiatives described in other parts of this document to assure that children reach permanency at the earliest time possible. However, when examining recent Department statistics on the number of months in care prior to closure, it appears that the length of time it takes a child to reach permanency is increasing rather than decreasing. This is a misleading statistic. For a period of time this phenomenon may continue. A contributing factor to the length of time in care is that the number of children in substitute care increased substantially between FY93 and FY97. Most of this growth occurred in relative care which increased by 56 percent during that time period. We know from previous studies that children in relative care remain in the system longer and it takes longer for them to achieve permanency.

The Downstate regions have consistently kept cases open a shorter period of time. In the Department’s most recent Child and Family Outcome Report, each of the Downstate regions had a median substitute care stay of 31-32 months. Among the three major Cook regions, however, the median months were 41-42. The three Cook regions utilize home of relative care at a much higher rate than do the Downstate regions. In fact, 85 percent of the state?s relative care population is located in the Cook regions. Relative placements often become permanent living arrangements for children. With new permanency options of subsidized guardianship and improved adoption laws, more children will be achieving permanency in a much quicker timeframe. The Department is examining ways of measuring length of time to achieve permanency that also looks at new children entering care after the Department’s initiative was implemented.

 Process Objectives with Measures under Consideration

Objective 3.1: Increase participation of families and foster parents in the development of assessments and individualized service plans based on strengths, needs and desires of the child and family.--The Department’s concerns in this area have led to the reestablishment of the Children and Family Research Center?s client satisfaction assessment of the parents of children in care and Northern Illinois University’s (NIU) 1997 and 1998 Foster Parent Surveys. CFRC's survey consisted of an assessment of general satisfaction, behavioral descriptors, and additional comments. The areas covered in the NIU Foster Parent Surveys were: awareness of rights; extent/type of training received; quality of communication between DCFS, caseworkers, and office; foster parent's attitude toward child?s caseworker; perception of being part of a team caring for the child; perception of being involved in creating the case plan.

From 1997 to 1998, the NIU survey results show increases in foster parent feelings that they are part of a team, receiving a copy of the service plan, having input into the most recent service plan, having comments acknowledged, and having received home visits by the caseworker during the prior month.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the placement of a core group of field teachers into the Regions in order to reinforce principles of assessment and planning, the revision of policies and instruments to assist in an integrated, coordinated approach, the provision of training to field and protective service managers in assessment and planning, the development of a Permanency Compact Agreement and definition of intervention strategy tracks for use between families and caseworkers, the establishment and training of a clinically-based protocol to increase case manager knowledge and skills, including a curriculum on SEI, the development of a network of well-trained service providers through consultation and skill development to serve substance exposed infants and their families, the provision of training to foster parents and staff on service planning and policy, and the revision and implementation of a strength-based service planning model by the Division of Clinical Services; the development and dissemination of policy requiring DCFS and private agency staff to include foster parents in service planning for children in their care and the implementation of HB66, HB 165, and SB 1099 by the Division of Foster Care and Permanency Services; and the development of one family/one worker case assignment strategies by the Division of Operations and Community Services.

Objective 3.3: Increase involvement of those families for whom English is not their first language.—During FY97-99, there was a great deal of activity in the standardization of the DCFS translation process and the development of a network of qualified, professional translators. These efforts have resulted in the updating, revision, and translation of 97 pamphlets, forms, form letters, and Rules and Procedures. There are two Spanish language pamphlets on the Department web site . The Office of Latino Services annually published the Hispanic Family Profile and assisted in the recruitment of Spanish-speaking staff. In the area of hearing impaired services, statewide training sessions on working with the hearing impaired took place during FY99 and all Department offices are now equipped with TDD communication devices.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the monitoring of the development of parenting courses and support groups for persons in the Hispanic community in Winnebago County and increasing the availability of translation services (hotline and TDD) by the Division of Child Protection; the review of staff vacancies to determine need for enhanced ethnic/language capability by the Office of Litigation Management; the support for the African-American and Latino Conferences to increase staff training opportunities and the provision of training related to Native American service issues in Cook County by the Division of Clinical Services; the development of a video to recruit Native American foster and adoptive parents, the development of the Latino Consortium, and the incorporation of planning for bilingual services into all Department initiatives by the Director?s Office.

Objective 3.4: Ensure frequent, quality visitation between the child and his or her parents. Measures for this Objective are under review and an ongoing study of the effects of visitation is a component of the Children and Family Research Center research agenda.

The Action Steps involved in this Objective included the re-evaluation of the Cook County visiting centers to redirect programming toward more opportunities to develop enhanced relationships by the Division of Clinical Services; the training of staff on Department requirements for and importance of visitation, the conducting of worker focus groups on barriers to visitation, and the improvement of strategies related to families being served by one worker/one agency by the Office of Litigation Management; the placement of siblings together whenever possible or ensuring frequent visitation among siblings when placement together is not appropriate by the Division of Operations and Community Services; the monitoring of the compliance with the Department’s visitation requirements by the Division of Administrative Case Review; and the increasing of community-based placements for sibling groups by the Director's Office.

Objective 3.7: Increase the number of children who exit care who are employed, in school or in vocational programming.--The number of wards aged 18 or over increased by 71% from 2,483 youth in 1990 to 4,253 in 1997. In FY98-99, there have been intensive redesign activities for the Independent Living Program which address both the needs expressed in this objective and the information systems to monitor progress. Additional information on this area is in the CFSP section on Services to Older Wards and in the PAL documents in the Appendices.

The Action Steps involved with this Objective included the requirement of service plans for all eligible youth to include provision of PAL services as detailed in regional LANs based PAL plans, the development and implementation of regional LANs-based PAL plans that include training, technical assistance to POS agencies, and referral and discharge protocols, the conducting of quarterly meetings of field office staff to discuss PAL programs, the distribution of PAL flyers and other informational materials to field offices, the development of more independent living services for young people transitioning to adulthood, and the review of independent living programs to identify and implement any necessary changes by the Division of Operations and Community Services.

Action Steps

Of the 181 Action Steps identified in the CFSP, 72 were originally expressed as "On-going." Of the remaining 109 original Action Steps, 25 were completed for FY98 and scheduled for a new cycle of implementation in FY99 as "On-going" activities or converted to "On-going" status because of their multi-year implementation timeframes. A final review of FY97-99 CFSP Action Steps is presented in the Appendices.

Training and Staff Development

An important part of ensuring quality of services is staff development. All training is designed to improve employee job performance and client outcomes. It is competency based and addresses one or more of the following areas: job knowledge, job skills, values of DCFS and the social work profession, employee motivation, and attitudes that illustrate fairness, ethical behavior, cultural sensitivity, and concern for quality and completeness.

The Child Welfare Training Institute is the Department’s staff development office. Its role is to plan, coordinate, and implement training and staff development programs required by state and federal law as well as administer and deliver the Basic Training Program for all new hires. Annually, its programs reach 20,000 people. These include DCFS and private agency staff, adoptive and foster parents, and other people involved in the delivery or management of services. Funding comes from Title IV-E, state government, and private sources. Indirect and in-kind support from public colleges and universities is used for federal match purposes.

The Department in FY97 launched a clinical practice training program for all direct service staff and their supervisors. The curriculum includes five weeks of in-class training. All affected staff are expected to complete it within the next year. Experienced trainers with child welfare backgrounds conduct the course. Topics covered include effecting change, engagement-assessment-intervention practices, permanency issues, family communication, interviewing, social networking, risk factors, substance abuse and treatment, screening family members, goal development, and LAN resources. Following clinical practice training, new child protection investigators and supervisors will receive an additional week of specialty training.

Specialized training initiatives that began in FY97 and have continued include:

Education Partnership. This is a collaboration between DCFS and accredited MSW programs in Illinois. Each school works with an assigned region. The goal is to develop training to bridge the gap between what staff learn in college and what they need on the job. Field support includes field teaching, supervision, grand rounds, clinical guides, floating teams (substitutes for workers in training), and topic specialists such as psychologists, nurses, and educational liaisons. All programs offered within the Division of Clinical Services and training meet the requirements for clock hours from the Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Nurses Association, Counselors, and the Illinois Association of Drug Abuse and Alcoholism Counselors as well as for the Department’s internal mandatory in-service requirements.

Each newly hired permanency worker or investigator completes a mentorship program under the guidance of a field instructor from the partnership schools. In this component of the basic training program, the new worker or investigator shadows experienced Department staff and reviews their observations and other work products with the partner.

Additionally, faculty from the partnership train field staff in small groups in order to continue to increase their assessment skills and to continue to support the Department’s accomplishments in achieving permanency for its wards. Special attention is focused on the areas of alcoholism and substance abuse, mental illness, developmental disabilities, and other conditions that contribute to poor functioning.

Professional Development Coordinators. These regionally-based staff help create and implement individualized professional development plans for staff. They are aided by Field Teachers, licensed clinical social workers retained to address specific individual training needs. Nearly all staff have direct access to Field Libraries. These were established by the DCFS Office of Professional Development in FY97 and have been enhanced each year. They consist of books, articles, journals, videos, self-training modules and computer-based materials on a full range of social service subjects.

Adopt PRIDE/Foster PRIDE. The Department provides or facilitates training for foster and adoptive parents. Prospective foster parents are required to complete the 27-hour Adopt PRIDE/Foster PRIDE Training Program before they receive a child. It focuses on the five competencies of foster parenting: protecting and nurturing children, connecting children to safe and nurturing relationships, working as a member of a professional team, meeting children’s developmental needs, and supporting relationships between children and their families. PRIDE also includes a 10 module in-service training series whose topics include children’s developmental needs, using discipline, working with the biological family, promoting children’s identity, promoting permanency outcomes, managing the impact of placement on the family, and understanding the effects of chemical dependency on children and families. Licensed relative care givers who wish to care for unrelated children must complete this training.

Persons who want to adopt must complete a course of instruction called Adoptive Parent Certification Training. Beginning in FY97, this training was based on an Illinois-specific manual developed by Spaulding for Children. It was revised during FY99 in response to needs expressed by adoptive parents. Adopt/Foster PRIDE is no longer required for parents who wish to adopt, but do not wish to provide foster care.

Conferences and Symposia. The Department funded several additional training activities for foster parents and staff from DCFS and private agencies. These included the Illinois Foster Parent Association Fall Conference, the DCFS/IFPA Leadership Symposia, the Statewide Foster Parent Conference, and foster parent resource materials. In addition, region-based training plans are developed to enhance team building between staff and foster parents. In order to maintain licensure, foster parents must complete four clock hours of training per year or 16 hours per licensing period.

New Licensing Requirements. During FY99, work began to define a new licensing requirement for all public and private child welfare practitioners in order to ensure a high quality of services. A joint committee was formed to define competencies, a licensing administrator was hired and the work began. By FY00, those competencies identified as "basic" will be listed and curriculums available to meet those competencies will be identified.

A testing program will begin with the goal of identifying mastery of subject areas as well as deficiencies. The preparation of staff will begin as required. Public agency staff who have passed the examinations required during the Basic Training Program may be grandfathered in. This will not affect private agency staff as proposed. No part of this program delivered to private agency staff will be claimed IV-E reimbursement except as topics allow and at the 50% rate.

Research and Evaluation

The Department’s research, evaluation, and quality assurance programs are coordinated by the Department’s research director in collaboration with the Children and Family Research Center. Examples of FY97-99 projects include evaluations of the DHS-OASA/DCFS Initiative, the Child Endangerment and Risk Assessment Protocol, Family Centered Services, and Home of Relative foster care reform.

Office of the Research Director. DCFS coordinates research and evaluation that it funds or approves through its Office of the Research Director, established in July 1994 under a joint appointment with the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Research and evaluation activities include the DCFS Institutional Review Board, quick response activity through the Chapin Hall Center, and the subsidized guardianship waiver evaluation. The Research Director also serves as the Department’s liaison to the Children and Family Research Center.

Children and Family Research Center. The Center is an independent research organization located in the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Its mission includes 1) determining outcomes for children and families served by the Department; 2) identifying reasons for those outcomes; 3) evaluating service and practice; and 4) reporting study findings to the Department and the public. Within this mission, the Center?s major goals are to assure the safety, permanency, and well-being of the children who are served by the Department. The Center?s research agenda is informed by the Illinois Child Welfare Research Agenda, created by Center and Department staff in conjunction with a wide range of constituents from the child welfare community.

Management of Information Systems

The development of new information management systems will affect all aspects of the Department's operations, but will particularly enrich its quality assurance capacity. SACWIS (Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System) will computerize most statistical record keeping, casework and diagnostic information and court reporting functions, while also producing detailed service and client demographic data. AFCARS, the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System will use SACWIS and other data to generate projections, trend analyses and other reports for management and research use. SACWIS will be compatible with information systems used by other state agencies. A SACWIS field pilot was conducted and installation of hardware is in the first phase.

Accomplishments of the Department’s SACWIS project to date include:

  • Development of the technical system requirements that SACWIS must meet. This was accomplished through three major activities in 1995: focus groups, an architecture study, and a site readiness study. The consulting firm of Deloitte and Touche assisted the Department in completion of this work.
  • Completion of an Operations and Systems Analysis that documented the Department’s current business processes and work process models and also included an inventory of the Department’s existing application systems and data structures.
  • Development of the functional requirements the SACWIS application must meet.
  • The functional requirements were developed primarily through the work of nine functional design teams. Each team had co-leaders and from 15-18 members. The functional requirements were developed during the period from June 1996 through December 1997. The Department has identified some 860 functional requirements for the SACWIS system.

  • Initial installation and purchase of computer work stations for approximately 1,400 Department staff located in 14 Department offices, including the first filed offices accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children. Initial office automation training was provided for the recipients of the new workstations as well.
  • Awarding of the contract for the procurement of Equipment, Software, and Services. This procurement includes purchase of some 4,000 additional computer workstations, 700 laptop computers, network hardware and software, and services related to the establishment and operation of a consolidated help desk and operations center. When installation of all the computer workstations is completed by March 2000, every Department staff person will have their own computer workstation. Staff receiving the new workstations and laptop computers will all receive basic training on computer operation and training on use of the office automation software.
  • Release of the FY99 RFP for the SACWIS Application Development and Implementation. It is projected that by September 1, 1999, a vendor will be selected and initiate work on the development of the Illinois SACWIS application. Development and testing of the SACWIS application is projected to take 18 months followed by an implementation period of 6 months during which staff will be fully trained on the SACWIS application. Additionally, a post-implementation period of 12 months is expected to assure system effectiveness.
  • Establishment of a Child Welfare Advisory Committee (CWAC) SACWIS Advisory Subcommittee to provide a regular forum for joint planning with representatives of Purchase of Service (POS) providers of Title IV-B and IV-E services regarding the impact of SACWIS on POS agencies.
  • Establishment and publication of a regular SACWIS newsletter as a vehicle for communicating the status and progress of the SACWIS project.

 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)

CAPTA funding supported the administration, management, monitoring, and review of Department demonstration projects and the Family Centered Services Initiative; provision of parenting programs and preventive services by Chicago Creative Partnership, LSC and Associate, Illinois Chapter of The National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, IMANI, NIA Comprehensive Center for Development, The Parent Place, Youth Service Network, and La Voz Latino; The Paternal Involvement Projects; and consultation and implementation of activities involving the child death review teams.

With the amendment of 89 Ill. Adm. Code 431, effective January 15, 1999, (Assurances #5b, #5d, and #6) and the establishment of Citizen Review Panels (Assurance #10), all CAPTA Assurances are met. Assurances, minutes from the June meeting of the Citizen Review Panel Steering Committee, and an outline of Panel implementation activities are attached.

 Progress in Diligent Recruitment

The Department has made steady progress since 1995 in the diligent recruitment of adoptive and foster families and in the achievement of completed adoptions. In November 1998, Illinois garnered three of eight national Adoption Excellence 2002 Awards given in that year. Two of the three Illinois awards cited innovative programs in adoption recruitment:

  • Governor and Mrs. Edgar were cited for their personal leadership in innovative recruitment programs, including Project Heart, Help Me Grow and the Corporate Partnership for the Recruitment of Adoptive Families, programs implemented or sponsored by DCFS. The Corporate Partnership has been a collaboration between DCFS, private child welfare agencies and corporations to recruit in the workplace for adoptive parents. The first two years’ efforts focused on recruiting in hospitals and health care agencies.
  • The Hope for the Children program was cited for its innovative adoption recruitment model.

Other efforts in diligent recruitment have included:

  • Establishment of Adoption Awareness Month to focus attention on the need for adoptive parents.
  • Establishment of the Village Investment Partnership (VIP) program operated under the auspices of the Adoption Information Council of Illinois that pairs adult volunteer mentors with children waiting to be adopted. VIP mentors identify and recruit potential adoptive parents for children through their network of personal and business acquaintances, as well as being interested friends and positive role models. VIP mentors and children have been primarily from the African-American community.
  • Establishment of a new 24 hour/7 day a week (including holidays) recruitment hotline for prospective foster and adoptive parents at the Adoption Information Center of Illinois. The hotline has both English and Spanish language services.
  • Collaborative recruitment with public schools in Chicago, where 75% of DCFS wards’ originate. Neighborhood schools with high percentages of minority children in substitute care are targeted for recruitment.
  • Pioneering the recruitment of relatives as permanent legal guardians in FY97.
  • Regional recruitment activities focusing on inner-city communities.
  • Collaborative recruitment with the Native American Foster Parent Association to recruit American Indian and bi-racial families.
  • Development of contracts with private agencies for recruitment in inner-city areas and with welfare mothers for foster care licensing.
  • Development of a Latino Consortium, eight private child welfare agencies which serve the majority of Spanish bi-lingual clients. The Consortium actively recruits bilingual foster and adoptive families.
  • Creation of the Adoption Consortium among DCFS and private child welfare agencies.
  • Continued support of One Church One Child (OCOC) which is primarily focused on recruitment in African-American churches. During FY98 and FY99, DCFS doubled the number of OCOC recruiters.
  • Continued support of the Adoption Information Center of Illinois, whose programs include (in addition to VIP) two editions of the Adoption Listing Service, a web site listing service, the "Adopt Me" newsletter, and use of television and newspaper media to reach potential adoptive and foster families. AICI also holds adoption parties and adoption information meetings in venues that include minority families.

 Progress in Transition Rules

Policy Guide 98.11 released November 2, 1998, effective November 16, 1998, states:

"The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 requires that a State file a petition to terminate parental rights and seek an adoptive placement for children who were in foster care on or before November 19, 1997 who have been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months. For purposes of this policy the date of entering foster care is interpreted as being the date that is 60 days after the date on which the child is removed from the home (these would be children removed from their parents on or before September 20, 1997)." [Section IV(a)(1)]

"Petitions for the termination of parental rights must be filed for children who entered foster care after November 19, 1997 as soon as they complete their 15th month in foster care." [Section IV(b)(2)]

With regard to protocols between the courts and agencies, the Department’s Office of Legal Services has an ongoing relationship with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office where the process for the legal screening for the termination of parental rights cases in Cook County is addressed. The Office of Legal Services also has ongoing relationships with courts and the State’s Attorneys in the various counties. ASFA statistics from the Office of Litigation Management indicate adherence to the time frames identified in Section IV(b)(1) of the Policy Guide.

Progress in Implementing the Inter-Ethnic Placement Act

  • The Department has been developing more detailed policy.
  • An IEPA internal review process is being assembled.
  • IEPA training statewide is nearly complete.
  • The Department has identified IEPA-specific competencies for further training.
  • All Department forms, including those used by ACR and Agency Performance Teams, are being reviewed for IEPA consistency.

 IV-E Independent Living Program

During FFY98, the Department provided independent living and transition services to youth in substitute care over the age of 16. Illinois served 2,613 youth in FFY98 with a variety of ongoing independent living programs and services that emphasize educational attainment, employment, and transition planning. Approximately 1,158 assessments were administered and billed through the federally funded PAL program. Many other youth in private agency placement receive the assessment from the private agency worker as part of the agency’s contract and are not directly billed.

Since the inception of the program over a decade ago, access to transition services for Illinois youth has depended on referrals by child welfare caseworkers. Caseworkers relied on specialized transition managers and case managers for nearly all work with adolescents. The FFY98 PAL Report, which covers the period October 1, 1997 through September 30, 1998, reflects the final year of that service model.

In FFY99, the Department undertook a significant expansion of adolescent services to ensure that every youth, age 14-21 and in care, receives an appropriate life skills assessment, transition planning, and necessary supports.