A New Development In How DCFS Works With Families………
Posted 11/17/2004

Based on the fundamentals of good social work practice and in response to requirements of the Council of Accreditation and Federal Review Outcomes, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has created a new child welfare assessment process known as the Integrated Assessment Program (IAP). The IAP assists in the identification of the clinical, placement and service needs of a child entering into custody through a comprehensive series of interviews and assessments. The IAP is a collaborative effort that streamlines the collection of important family information within the first 45 days of a child entering into the Department’s care, as well as throughout the life of the case.

To best identify developmental, behavioral, and mental health needs for every new child entering into DCFS care, a comprehensive health evaluation, as well as a series of clinical interviews and screens, will be completed. Substitute caregivers and birth parents will also be interviewed to identify the types of community and social supports needed to foster optimal permanency outcomes.

Information from the various assessments will be collected by casework staff and licensed clinicians and incorporated into the Integrated Assessment Report. Recommendations that are identified in the Integrated Assessment Report will lead directly to the development of the Family Service Plan. The Service Plan is created in collaboration with the caregiver, parent, and client at the Family Meeting. The IAP is the first step in providing our children with the specialized services they need to ensure safety, permanence and well being.

DCFS has established contracts with five universities and institutions to provide licensed clinical screeners to partner with permanency workers in conducting Integrated Assessments statewide. These universities include:

Northern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University
LaRabida Children’s Hospital
Children’s Memorial Hospital
Erikson Institute

A Year of Great Progress………
Since January 2004, Integrated Assessments have been conducted for new standard cases that originated in Cook County Regional DCFS Offices. In September 2004, Dr. Kristin Velazquez Kenefick joined DCFS to serve as the IAP Statewide Administrator.

By October 2004, the program expanded to address the needs of clients who have experienced multiple placement disruption. Multiple placement disruption cases involve all youth who have experienced more than two foster care placement disruptions within 18 months. The IAP provides clinical staff for these types of cases to ensure the best support for children, families, and the permanency workers assigned to the cases.

Looking Ahead………

By January 2005, the IAP will be implemented statewide. As the program continues to expand, DCFS will have the capacity to address new cases and other high-risk populations in both DCFS and private agencies.

Good News Travels Fast………

Between now and the first week of December, DCFS Director Bryan Samuels is joining with Deputy Directors Velma Williams, Arthur Bishop, Erwin McEwen, Cynthia Moreno, and Ray Knight to conduct Integrated Assessment Program information sessions throughout the state. This team, including representatives from the five institutions, will join Director Samuels to meet with DCFS and private agency executives to promote the successful implementation of the Integrated Assessment Program.

If you are a private agency Executive Director or a DCFS Regional Administrator and would like to register to attend, please call the DCFS Registration Unit at 877.800.3393 at your earliest convenience.

Closing Remark……….
Velma Williams, Deputy Director for Clinical Practice and Professional Development indicates the Department is reaching a major milestone. “We were convinced we could do a better job with more complete and coordinated information on the front-end. But no one anywhere in the country was doing that. In Illinois, we had to figure it out ourselves. I believe that we got it right,” said Deputy Director Williams.

This is an exciting time for the Department as we begin to fully address the needs of the clients served each day. We hope that this information helps provide an overview of the new DCFS Integrated Assessment Program.

Next month, look for updates and new questions and answers received from the field.