Mission Statement

The Mission of DCFS is to:

  • Protect children who are reported to be abused or neglected and to increase their families? capacity to safely care for them
  • Provide for the well-being of children in our care
  • Provide appropriate, permanent families as quickly as possible for those children who cannot safely return home
  • Support early intervention and child abuse prevention activities
  • Work in partnerships with communities to fulfill this mission.

 Vision Statement

DCFS is committed to acting in the best interest of every child it serves and to helping families by increasing their ability to provide a safe environment for their children and by strengthening families who are at risk of abuse or neglect.

DCFS envisions a future in which children who have been abused or neglected:

  • Are served with respect, fairness, and linguistic and cultural competence
  • Live in families that are safe and healthy
  • Live safely at home or are placed for short-term care in capable, nurturing foster homes
  • Have no unplanned placement disruptions
  • Are quickly and safely reunified with their families through restorative services or are placed with adoptive families or permanent guardians when reunification is not possible
  • Are served by a comprehensive continuum of services including the provision of residential placement when that best meets the child?s needs
  • Live in communities where partnerships between DCFS, which has immediate and direct responsibility for wards, and other public and private agencies provide an effective array of services to meet the needs of children and families and prevent child abuse and neglect
  • Are served by competent, highly trained staff who respond to every report of abuse or neglect and who act quickly and professionally to protect them and ensure their well-being
  • Are served by a legal system that will promptly and efficiently adjudicate their cases and provide for an appropriate and expeditious disposition
  • Are served by a Department that manages its fiscal and human resources effectively and with maximum efficiency.

 DCFS Core Principles

DCFS believes its services must be based on the following principles:


Family and children are best served in the communities in which they live through an array of services carefully selected by the family to meet their individual needs and provided through partnerships with local agencies. Communities and families are strengthened by coordinating and linking community and state resources and by involving parents and communities as full partners in making and implementing policy.

DCFS is striving to follow this principle by:

  • Promoting community-based service delivery by building a statewide system of local area networks of service providers and increasing communities? capacity to serve children and families
  • Promoting and supporting community-based services which strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect
  • Providing support for family-centered services in high risk communities
  • Locating staff within the communities they serve
  • Identifying gaps in local services and stimulating development of culturally and linguistically competent, family focused resources of high quality that reflects the community’s current demographic and projected needs and adequately responds to a DCFS objective of maintaining children in their own community
  • Developing and implementing service plans tailored to meet the individual needs of children and families with parents/caregivers that are designed to serve children in their own homes or in the least restrictive, most home-like setting within their own communities
  • Developing service plans for intact families with parents that are designed to help families pursue their own, self-defined goals consistent with child safety and well-being
  • Improving services geared to the cultural, linguistic, and developmental needs of the child
  • Forging partnerships with Child Advocacy Centers, Law Enforcement, State?s Attorneys, Courts, Guardians ad Litem, caregivers, and other providers
  • Collaborating with federal, state, and local agencies that provide housing, health, education, mental health, and drug and alcohol services
  • Designing and implementing information systems that will link to information systems in other agencies to facilitate cooperation and collaboration and resolution of common issues in child welfare
  • Involving the birth parents, foster parents, children, and families in the community we serve in the development and evaluation of policy and procedures by encouraging their involvement in Local Area Networks and Youth Advisory Committees


Children who are abused and neglected should be provided the highest quality of service. DCFS will seek and use input from its employees, birth parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, DCFS wards, purchase of service agencies, and other publics in maintaining a work environment that encourages quality service delivery by setting high standards for practice and administration, using qualified and dedicated staff, and providing staff training, technology, and resources to achieve excellence in the performance of their duties. DCFS will ensure that goals, initiatives, plans, and protocols include the identification of realistic, specific, quantifiable, outcomes with corresponding objectives to achieve outcomes in relationship to language and appropriately reflect the diversity and needs of the populations served.

DCFS is striving to follow this principle by:

  • Implementing the standards of the Council of Accreditation on Services for Families and Children and other relevant quality standards
  • Developing and implementing "Best Practice" standards and practice for all aspects of the child welfare system and ensuring all staff are trained under those practices
  • Developing a diverse and culturally competent workforce
  • Maintaining reasonable and appropriate workloads for staff
  • Encouraging early involvement and using recommendations from the Supervisory Council, Foster Parent Advisory Committee, Family Centered Services Advisory Group, Children and Family Services Advisory Council, Child Welfare Advisory Committee, Statewide Citizens? Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children?s Justice Task Force, Hispanic Advisory Council, African American Family Commission, and other stakeholders
  • Promoting teamwork with birth families and foster and adoptive families
  • Accurate tracking of children through the system to minimally include the identification of parents’ race and language spoken at home, child’s age, health related issues, and educational achievement
  • Improving training and upgrading casework skills through implementation of the Clinical Practices Training Program and educational partnerships with regional university schools of social work and through the development of the Child and Family Services Training Academy in Cook County
  • Improving supervision by requiring all new supervisors to hold an MSW or related master’s degree and by setting standards for and providing training to supervisors and supporting LCSW supervision and licensure
  • Improving practice support and mentoring systems by providing staff clinical support through Screening Assessment and Support Services (SASS), Sexually Aggressive Children and Youth Program (SACY), and nursing, pediatric, psychological, substance abuse, and domestic violence consultations and by ensuring that all these systems have the capability to provide linguistically and culturally competent assessments and services on a timely basis
  • Using outcome-based performance measures to assess the quality of contracted and internally delivered services in order ensure that practice meets high standards
  • Developing and implementing Quality Assurance Plans on a statewide and regional basis which include linguistic and cultural competency measures for all initiatives
  • Ensuring the Purchase of Service contracts that provide services to Spanish speaking wards and/or their families have quality assurance plans that include linguistic and cultural competency measures that conform with policy and procedures set forth by the Department and any other initiatives.


DCFS believes the public interest is served when services are delivered in the most effective and efficient way possible. Efficient and effective service delivery can be achieved when performance and outcomes are consistently measured throughout the system, when these measures are reported regularly to staff and to the public, and when results are analyzed and used to continuously correct and improve performance.

DCFS is striving to follow this principle by:

  • Increasing the emphasis on improved child-focused and family-focused outcomes and measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of services in terms of outcomes and costs
  • Improving protection systems by supporting the development of Child Death Review Teams and implementing their recommendations
  • Enhancing tracking of outcomes and their relationships to obstacles and barriers through the independent, university-based Child and Family Research Center
  • Developing and utilizing multi-disciplinary teams to provide a second opinion review for mandated reporters on cases determined to be unfounded
  • Improving administrative, support, coordination, and oversight functions performed by the Office of the Inspector General, Office of the Ombudsman, and Divisions of Administrative Case Reviews, Quality Assurance, and Contracting
  • Continuously adapting strategies and making improvements to assure that desired outcomes are met
  • Developing and implementing the SACWIS information system to measure and report performance accurately and in a timely fashion
  • Ensuring that Department computing systems meet Year 2000 compliance

 The objectives in the strategic plan are expressed in realistic, specific, quantifiable, and measurable terms. Outcomes and outcome measures have been developed in place of interim benchmarks and long-term timetables. Outcomes are more direct measures of progress in the pursuit of goals than measuring the achievement of objectives which may only be process measures.

Goals, Outcomes & Objectives

GOAL I: SAFETY:  Children are Protected from Abuse and Neglect


  • Risk of Harm is minimized.
  • Children are protected from abuse and neglect whether they are living in their own homes or in substitute care.


1.1  Improve on the rate at which the department responds to reports of abuse and neglect within 24 hours.

1.2  Improve on the rate at which the department completes investigations within the required 60 days.

1.3  Reinforce mandated reporter confidence in the thoroughness of investigations.

1.4  Increase the percentage of child victims with no new indicated child abuse/neglect reports in 6 months.

1.5  Increase the percentage of children, reported to be abused or neglected, who can safely remain at home.

1.6  Improve access to Child Advocacy Centers throughout the state.

1.7  Increase the safety of children in substitute care.

1.8  Reduce child fatalities due to maltreatment.

1.9  Reduce the number of case openings for at-risk families needing only prevention services or emergency interventions.

1.10 Increase the shared responsibility and accountability by the broader community for troubled families who do not require state sanctioned interventions.

GOAL II: PERMANENCY: Provide Children with Permanent and Stable Living Arrangements


  • Children are quickly and safely reunified with their parents or are successfully placed in adoptive homes within 24 months.
  • Children’s living arrangements are safe, permanent and stable.
  • Family relationships and positive community connections are preserved for children.


2.1  Increase the number of children safely reunified with their families.

2.2  Decrease the median length of time for children to achieve permanency.

2.3  Increase the permanency rate (adoptions and guardianships) of the foster care caseload.

2.4  Decrease the number of placement disruptions.

2.5  Improve support services for families who have achieved permanency.

2.6  Increase the resource base of foster and adoptive homes, particularly for children with high-end special needs.

2.7  Increase the percentage of children placed within their LANs/communities of origin.

2.8  Increase the percentage of cases where two or more siblings are placed together.

2.9  Increase staff responsiveness to the cultural and language needs of department wards and families served by the Department.

2.10  Increase the involvement of minority communities.

GOAL III: WELL-BEING: Strengthen Families and Children and Enhance their Well-Being


  • Families will have enhanced capacity to provide for their children’s needs.
  • Children will receive appropriate services to meet their educational and developmental needs.
  • Children will receive adequate services to meet their physical and mental health needs.
  • Youth emancipating from care are prepared for adult living.


3.1  Increase the involvement of families and foster parents in the development of assessments and individualized service plans based on the language, strengths, needs, and desires of the child and family.

3.2  Improve the timeframe for screening, referral and access to treatment for AODA services.

3.3  Increase the number of clients successfully completing substance abuse treatment who are in need of such service.

3.4  Improve service coordination planning with DHS to optimize a family’s success toward both child welfare and self-sufficiency goals.

3.5  Screen and refer as needed all wards age five and under for early intervention services.

3.6  Increase school attendance, promotion and graduation rates.

3.7  Improve the availability and access to post-secondary education or vocational training for older wards.

3.8  Increase the percentage of children in care with adequate levels of documented health services.

3.9  Improve the Department’s response to children with physical disabilities.

3.10  Improve coordination of care for children with behavioral health needs.

3.11  Increase the number of children served in the least restrictive, most clinically appropriate settings.

3.12  Improve the availability of resources in each LAN.

3.13  Provide appropriate assessment and services for all youth in care, age 14 and over, to aid in their transition to adulthood.

3.14  Provide appropriate service linkages to wards with special needs transitioning out of the system.

GOAL IV: QUALITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY: The Highest Quality of Service is Effectively and Efficiently Delivered


  • Service provided to children and families is of the highest quality.
  • Performance and outcomes are measured consistently throughout the system and results are used to improve performance.
  • Quality and performance standards are met by private agencies in the child welfare system.
  • Department systems operate in an efficient, effective manner.
  • All levels of quality assurance planning, monitoring, and implementation will include measurable outcomes and objectives which address linguistic and cultural competence and service provision.


4.1  All agencies and DCFS offices are to be accredited under the Council on Accreditation by the end of 2001.

4.2  Improve DCFS and private agency staff training and education to meet the needs of children and families served.

4.3 Improve recruitment and retention of high quality staff.

4.4  Develop a fully operational, all-inclusive, continuous quality improvement process which includes all staff participating on quality teams.

4.5  Develop outcome measures for all areas of service and a process of management to the desired outcomes.

4.6 Meet or exceed those standards of practice and organization requirements present in Department policy; industry standards; state, federal, and judicial mandates; and best practice.

4.7 Improve safety of DCFS and POS licensing.

4.8  Increase the efficiency in leveraging federal matching funds.

4.9  Process all child day care license applications and conduct annual monitoring in a timely manner.

4.10  Shift department management from crisis orientation to managing for excellence.

4.11 Update department information systems to be year 2000 compliant.

4.12  Improve internal communication.