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  Annual Progress and Services Report, 1997  


SECTION I: Progress and Accomplishments

In FY97, pursuant to the Final Rule for Title IV-B in ACYF-IM-CB-96-27, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services developed and adopted a comprehensive strategic plan--the consolidated Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP). The new document subsumes all other agency planning processes, whether tactical or strategic, and serves as their core. It requires that all activities performed by DCFS and its contractors be directed toward achieving one or more of three primary goals:

  • Safety--protect children from abuse and neglect
  • Permanency--provide children with permanent, stable living arrangements
  • Well-being--strengthen families and children and enhance their well-being.

This first Annual Progress and Services Report, also mandated by the Final Rule, will discuss progress and accomplishments toward achieving the above goals. Subsequent reports will also include analyses of outcome measures as presented in the CFSP.

The Goal of Safety

Each year, the Department has contact with more than 70,000 families through child abuse and neglect investigations. In FY 97, the Department initiated 99.5 percent of those investigations within 24 hours. It completed 98.8 percent of those investigations within 60 days. To assure that subjects of reports received appropriate services, DCFS also began, continued or completed the following systemic improvements:

  • Front End Redesign--This effort has been underway since FY96. Its goal is to connect families to services more quickly, in a planful manner, and at the community level. This will be done by closely linking the Department's investigative and service functions. Two models will be field tested in FY98. In the integrated model, one protective services worker will be responsible for all interaction with the family, from the investigation through the arrangement and/or provision of service, for as long as the child can remain safely at home. In the paired team model, separate workers will perform the investigative and service functions, but they will have the same supervisor. Both models call for the face-to-face handoff of cases. Test results will be evaluated in FY98, after which the Department will schedule further implementation as appropriate.
  • Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol--This protocol was developed by DCFS in FY96 in collaboration with the American Humane Association and a statewide, multidisciplinary task force. It helps staff identify safety factors at critical junctures in the agency's involvement with a family. It then guides development of a safety protection plan for each child determined to be at risk. Training began in FY96 and was completed in FY97. More than 7,000 investigative staff, follow-up staff, and their supervisors--from DCFS as well as private agencies--had to pass a certification test. In FY98, instruction in the protocol's use will become part of the Clinical Practice Retraining program.
  • Clinical Practice Training--To prepare for implementation of front end redesign, the Department in FY97 launched this six-week training module in FY97. By FY99, all affected staff and supervisors must be certified in Clinical Practice Training. It is discussed in more detail in Section III of this report, "Training and Staff Development."
  • Child Death Review Teams--These consist of teams of professionals from a wide variety of disciplines who review all factors in child abuse or neglect deaths and the deaths of Department wards. There are nine regionally-based teams in the state. In FY97, they made more than 30 recommendations for improving the process for identifying high risk situations and refining investigations.
  • Family Centered Services--Front end redesign in FY97 required that LANs begin developing and organizing resources so that community-based services can be delivered to intact families. Such services include prevention, intervention, and treatment aid. They were funded by the Family Centered Services Initiative, now in its third year. FY97 funding for the initiative was $8.7 million. For the first time, it included service grants to all 62 LANs in the state. In FY98, when testing of field models for community intervention and support is completed, it will be $10 million. The Department developed the field models with LAN conveners and a statewide workgroup.
  • Licensing--To promote children's safety, the Department licenses nearly 40,000 foster homes, group homes, institutions, agencies, and day care facilities. During FY97, this function for the first time was centralized the full year. This was done to focus management attention on the timeliness and accuracy of the licensing process.

Goal of Permanency

DCFS remains committed to the permanency provisions of PL 96-272 and other applicable laws and regulations. It makes all reasonable efforts to prevent placement when a child can be kept safely at home. When placement is necessary, it provides appropriate family reunification services or plans a new permanent living arrangement for the child.

When a child must enter substitute care, the Department's Administrative Case Review system reviews services and progress toward permanency. An initial review and subsequent semiannual reviews of each case are held. Agency staff, contractual providers, parents, foster parents, and older children attend and take part. A case reviewer chairs each session. New services or a change in permanency goal may be directed. In Cook County in FY98, the Department will conduct reviews of intake cases on a quarterly basis to speed their movement toward permanency.

To assure permanency for children in kinship care, the Department is implementing a Home of Relative Reform (HMR) Plan. It was formulated in 1995 after the number of children in HMR care had grown 169 percent in the previous five years. Corrective actions included amending the legal definition of neglect, streamlining the licensing process for relative homes, testing a Subsidized Guardianship program, and adopting a two-tiered pay scale by which unlicensed caregivers are reimbursed at the AFDC standard-of-care rate instead of the regular foster care rate. In FY96, these measures helped hold the increase in HMR care to just 3 percent. In FY97, the HMR caseload actually declined by .7 percent. A further reduction of 2 percent is projected in FY98.

As part of HMR reform, the Department revised the definition of neglect. It removes the assumption that children informally left in the care of relatives are abused or neglected. Such relatives, however, often need social services to stabilize the family and prevent future placement of the children. Starting in FY97, the Department provided such help through its Extended Family Support program. It has helped about 60 families a month.

DCFS is testing the concept of Subsidized Guardianship for foster children under a waiver from HHS. This new status will be considered only after family reunification and adoption have been ruled out. Under it, private guardianship will be transferred to relative caregivers and licensed foster parents. Affected children will no longer be wards of the state. Parental rights, however, will not be terminated. The Department expects 1,500 such case conversions by the end of FY98. The reimbursement structure will be the same as it is for subsidized adoptions. Also as with adoption, the Department will offer post-guardianship preservation services to help families maintain the new status.

As part of general foster care and reform, DCFS will field test a Performance Contracting System in Cook County in FY98. This will provide incentives and rewards for public or private agencies to move foster children toward permanency. For agencies that do not meet contractual expectations, there will be disincentives. As part of redesigning the purchase of service (POS) system, DCFS in FY97 completed installation of Agency Performance Teams in each Cook County Region. These teams monitor and evaluate overall performance of (POS) agencies. To date, they have identified a number of agencies, particularly newer ones, as having practice, financial or management problems with which they need help. The most troubled agencies have been closed. Intake into several others has been frozen while they've implemented corrective action plans. In FY98, a customized system of agency performance teams will be implemented downstate.

Recent initiatives to promote permanency through adoption include:

  • Creation of the Division of Foster Care and Permanency Services. This elevated the profile of the agency's permanency efforts by removing responsibility for them from the same unit that oversees substitute care.
  • An Expedited Adoption Program in Cook County to speed adoptions when birth parents are unknown, deceased, have had their rights terminated or have signed surrender agreements.
  • Required referral of all wards within two weeks of legal screening when they have no identified adoptive home to the Adoption Information Center of Illinois.
  • Adoption Ombuds service was initiated by a letter from the Department Director to all foster parents recommending that they call the Ombuds Office if the child isn't moving to permanency quickly enough.
  • A diligent search grant from HHS to help locate non-custodial parents or speed termination of their rights.
  • Evolving DCFS adoption workers into permanency workers so that all appropriate permanency outcomes will be expeditiously considered.
  • Revising a November 1995 rule so that adoption rates more closely mirror foster care rates.
  • Caseload Tracking System is now focusing heavily on permanency, including the development of reunification protocols, subsidized guardianship, expedited adoptions, and performance contracting.

Through these and other efforts, the Department has nearly doubled its number of consummated adoptions since FY94. In subscribing to the federal Adoption 2002 initiative, it has committed itself to doubling them again over the next five years.

Goal of Well-being

Whether a family is served intact or children are placed in substitute care, the physical and mental well-being of each family member is of vital concern to the Department. This is best assured when well-trained caregivers serve children in their own community in the least restrictive, homelike setting. Other services that enhance well-being include counseling, homemakers, medical and mental health care, an adequate education and job training. Through various funds, the Department provided such services to approximately 65,000 children (not including those receiving adoption assistance) and 45,000 families (including those receiving intact family services) during FY97.

Recent initiatives aimed at enhancing well-being include:

  • Health Care Network--also called HealthWorks, this system ensures that consistent medical care of adequate quality is accessible statewide at Medicaid reimbursement levels. It provides each child's caretaker with a health passport that contains relevant medical information on the child. It also recruits and monitors quality medical providers to offer ongoing well and sick child care, initial health screenings of children as they first enter foster care, and periodic, comprehensive health evaluations for all children in foster care. Since the inception of this program three years ago, the numbers of children who have documented immunizations and documented current EPSDT exams has nearly tripled.
  • Emergency Cash Assistance and Housing Locator Services-These are provided when a child would be placed in foster care (or not returned home) solely because of subsistence issues in the home. Some 3,100 families received emergency cash assistance in FY97, while 750 families received housing locator aid. Those totals in FY98, respectively, will be 3,700 and 840.
  • DASA/DCFS Initiative--Since FY95, DASA and DCFS have collaborated on an initiative to assess and treat substance abusing parents of children for whom DCFS is responsible. DASA funds assessment and treatment services while DCFS funds support services, including case management, outreach, and child care. The 15 Project SAFE sites jointly funded by DCFS and DASA became a part of this program. In addition, DASA began funding four new sites.
  • Chicago Public Schools--In FY97, the Chicago Public School system agreed to provide DCFS and private agencies with absenteeism and truancy data on children in their care. The agencies will use this data to identify wards who are having trouble in school, then work with the school system to address them. In addition, the system and DCFS also formally agreed to improve the transitional planning process for youth returning from residential care. To enhance planning for all wards, the Department also amended its service plan to collect more detailed information on their education.

The Department believes that well-being can also be promoted by reducing inappropriate high-end placements. Mechanisms to do that during FY97 included:

  • Regional Placement Review Teams--these are regionally-based teams of clinical experts. They review requests for placement of wards into residential care. Before approving a placement, the team must first thoroughly consider possible wraparound community alternatives with representatives of the child's LAN.
  • Policy Guide 96.5--this restricts the placement of children into psychiatric hospital settings. When placements are made, it calls for continuous oversight of them. Since this policy's issuance in February 1996, discharges from such settings have increased sharply, the average length of psychiatric hospital stays has fallen sharply, and the cost of days past medical necessity has fallen by two-thirds.
  • Level of Care Protocol--this requires that an assessment be completed and approved at the regional level before a child can be served in specialized foster care. A thorough revision of the protocol to improve validity and reliability of the instruments began in FY97 and will be completed in FY98. Beyond the promotion of well-being, this management initiative was expected to reduce state costs.
  • Fewer Out-of-State Placements--to give permanency efforts a community base, DCFS in FY97 worked with members of the Child Care Association of Illinois to develop more in-state resources for children who need residential care. This has helped reduce the number of out-of-state placements from nearly 800 in May 1995 to about 330 by the end of FY97. The Department hopes to further reduce such placements by the end of FY98.

When possible and appropriate, the Department seeks to place foster children in homes of relatives. This helps ensure continuity of culture and community for them. When such placements cannot be made, the Department then seeks to place children in non-relative homes in the same school district or community. When possible, those placements are made with foster parents of the same ethnic background and religious faith as the child. The same principle holds true with adoptive placements, although permanency efforts are not delayed for children if such placements are not available. To assess its multi-ethnic placement needs, the Department in FY97 conducted LAN-by-LAN demographic analyses of its anticipated resource needs. The results will inform FY98 resource and program development efforts.

Although there are no recognized Indian tribes or tribal organizations based in Illinois, the Department pays special attention to the service needs of Indian children. A work group meets periodically in Chicago with representatives of Indian community organizations. The group formed in FY97. At its meetings, service issues are discussed and DCFS compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act is evaluated.

Currently, the Department's primary means of tracking the well-being of children and families that it serves is the Administrative Case Review system. Under terms of the new strategic plan, it will also assess individual and family well-being by measuring the plan's outcomes. Those measures are detailed in Chapter VI of the Child and Family Services Plan.

SECTION II: Policy and Administrative Changes

Policy and administrative changes in FY97 focused on improving service coordination. For example, the Department required LANs to develop and organize activities under the Family Centered Services Initiative so they can serve intact families identified as at risk of abusing or neglecting their children. Field models for this new direction were designed with LAN co-conveners and a statewide work group. To enable the resulting programs, the Department for the first time awarded FCS service grants to all 62 LANs.

Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS), an entirely new means of managing client and service data, entered the field testing stage in FY97. This new system will enhance service coordination by automating most statistical records keeping, casework and diagnostic information, and court reporting for caseworkers. It will also provide detailed service and client demographics reports for agency management. DCFS as well as private agency staff will have access to the system. It will also be compatible with data systems of other agencies. Its development has been funded, in part, by match from HHS. Full statewide implementation of the new system is set for FY99.

For children and families whose needs cross agency boundaries, DCFS joined with other state human service departments in FY97 to field test five community-based collaborations, also known as Federation Sites. By coordinating information and services, these new partnerships will promote the "one-stop shopping" approach to service provision. They were a recommendation of the Governor's Task Force on Human Services Reform. Their funding mix is comprised of a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, from grants and staff support by state agencies, and from grants and in-kind support by the collaborating community entities themselves.

IN FY97, the Department's Preparing for Adult Life (PAL) program, the Illinois Independent Living Initiative, was decentralized. Coordination responsibilities are now vested in the LAN liaisons. This was done to enhance coordination at the community level.

Throughout FY97, DCFS worked with other state human service agencies to plan for establishment of the new state Department of Human Services on July 1, 1997. The planning included the orderly transfer of most DCFS day care and youth service programs to the new agency. It also entailed development of cross-agency data management capability to promote the "one-stop shopping" approach to serving families.

To enhance service coordination at the federal level, DCFS in late FY97 began developing a partnership agreement with Region V of the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Essentially, the agreement is a cooperative bill of particulars acknowledging the specific mutual expectations of DCFS and HHS.

SECTION III: Training and Staff Development

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. 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.

This training is designed to improve the quality of foster and adoptive care and improve employee job performance. It is based on needs analyses which reveal employee strengths as well as deficiencies. Most of it addresses one or more of the following concerns: 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.

Following are summaries of major training programs conducted in FY97 or slated for FY98. A comprehensive schedule is attached to this report in the APPENDICES.

The Department in FY97 launched a clinical practice training program for all direct service staff and their supervisors. The curriculum includes six weeks of in-class training. All affected staff are expected to complete it within the next two years. The course is conducted by the Child Welfare Institute of Atlanta, Georgia. Topics covered include effecting change, engagement-assessment-intervention practices, permanency issues, family systems, child safety strategies, family communication, interviewing, social networking, risk factors, substance abuse and treatment, screening family members, goal development, and LAN resources. Following clinical practice training, child protection investigators and supervisors in FY98 will receive an additional week of specialty training.

As in FY97 and past years, new adoption staff for DCFS and private agencies will receive three weeks of Adoption CORE training during FY98. In addition, training on the Cook Regions' redesign of adoption services will be provided. It will be geared toward adoption workers, placement supervisors and placement workers. For adoption staff statewide, the Department will also hold an annual adoption services conference.

Seven workshops for family preservation and reunification specialists were held in FY97. Topics included family systems, substance abusing families, program history and philosophy, working with families in crisis, moving families toward self-empowerment, and general orientation to the Department. A similar number of workshops will be held in FY98.

As in past years, licensing, management, clerical and other support staff will receive general orientation and skills training in FY98. Continuing education will also be stressed. For example, 100 staff will take part in the Social Work Education Program (SWEP), the Department-sponsored program to obtain Master of Social Work degrees. Since earning an MSW became a supervisory requirement in FY94, 280 staff have successfully completed that program.

Staff of Division of Administrative Case Review receive regular training in new initiatives and trends in social work practice. In addition, the division in FY98 will take part in the field testing of a curriculum developed by the EQUIP Project of the National Association of Foster Care Reviewers. Later in the year, the division will also field test new foster care review guidelines.

Specialized training initiatives that began in FY97 and will continue in FY98 include:

  • Facing It--a course in recognizing and treating sexually abusive behavior among children and youth. Direct service staff will be taught the basic course in the spring of 1997. Beginning in FY98, 300 supervisors will receive additional training so they may be certified as in-office consultants to other staff. In time, training for foster and adoptive parents will also be developed.
  • Subsidized Guardianship--instruction for DCFS and private agency staff in how to identify and prepare candidate families for subsidized guardianship under the new federal waiver.
  • Education Partnership--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. Grand Rounds, forums at which field staff learn from case presentations and direct discussions with senior clinical staff and other experts in specialty areas are one of the first products of this partnership.
  • Professional Development Coordinators--regionally-based staff who help create and implement individualized professional development plans for staff. They are aided by Field Teachers. These are licensed clinical social workers retained on a contractual basis to address specific individual training needs. By early FY98, nearly all staff will have direct access to Field Libraries. These were established by the DCFS Office of Professional Development in FY97. They consist of books, articles, journals, videos, self-training modules and computer-based materials on a full range of social service subjects.
  • Courtroom Testimony--a blend of lecture and moot court practicum developed by the DCFS Office of the Inspector General. Presented by DCFS and private attorneys, it covers legal as well as social work issues. It will complement other new training on mentally ill parents.
  • Pregnant and Parenting Teens--a curriculum to help DCFS meet the needs of young people in its care who are pregnant or parenting teens. Direct service, supervisory and support staff from DCFS as well as private agencies must complete it. It began in FY97 and will continue through FY98.
  • Sibling Placement and Family Visitation--training for child welfare staff on revised Department policy on family visits and sibling visits and placements. It will take place from May through August of 1997.
  • Parent Leadership Conference and Technical Assistance Network--Both of these programs directly support the Family Centered Services Initiative. The goal of the conference, held in March 1997, was to promote parents' involvement in LAN-based service planning by enriching their leadership and meeting management skills. The network is an ongoing collaboration between the LANs. Through it, they share problem-solving expertise in addressing issues of mutual concern.
  • POS Training--training for private agency foster care staff on various procedures and practices.

In addition to staff training, the Department provides or facilitates training for foster and adoptive parents. Prospective foster or adoptive parents are required to complete a 27-hour training program called Foster/Adopt PRIDE before they are licensed. 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 sexually abused child, working as a professional team member, 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.

After completing Foster/Adopt PRIDE, persons who want to adopt must also complete an additional 12 hours of instruction called Adoptive Parent Certification Training. Beginning in FY97, this training was based on an Illinois-specific manual developed by Spaulding for Children.

The Department funds several additional training activities for foster parents and staff from DCFS and private agencies. These include the Illinois Foster Parent Association Fall Conference, the DCFS/IFPA Leadership Symposia, and the Statewide Foster Parent Conference. Also, region-based training plans are developed to enhance team building between staff and foster parents.

To help assess the impact of its various training programs, the Department has established a monitoring system. For many years, it has featured student self-evaluation and trainer-directed curriculum evaluation. In FY97, a third on-going element--on-site spot monitoring--was added to the system.

To further enhance training, DCFS in FY97 successfully sought licensure as a social service agency from the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. This means that staff who are licensed by that agency may now count DCFS training as Continuing Education Units for renewal of their licenses. The Department is also working on similar arrangements with the Illinois Nurses Association and the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association. In FY98, it will seek state licensure as a marriage and family therapy agency.

SECTION IV: Research and Evaluation

DCFS coordinates research and evaluation that it funds or approves through its Office of the Research Director. It established the office in July 1994 under a joint appointment agreement with the School of Social Service Administration of the University of Chicago. Research and evaluation activities include:

  • DCFS Institutional Review Board--In accordance with DCFS rules and procedures, this board reviews all research involving children served by the Department. Its members include the Department's medical director, its guardianship administrator, other agency staff and one outside representative. It meets quarterly. In FY97, it reviewed some 42 proposals.
  • Quick Response Activity--This agreement is with Chapin Hall Center at the University of Chicago. Its purpose is to provide DCFS timely reports and data analyses on topics requested by the Department. In FY97, the vendor responded to 22 requests. Subjects included AFDC to DCFS transitions, agency-level performance, a probability sample for UIC study of plan goals, discharge tables for foster children, the CANTS-CYCIS match, and HealthWorks utilization. Chapin Hall also helps prepare the annual LAN factbook. In this volume, the Department compiles baseline information and other key indicators on a LAN-by-LAN basis. Each LAN is responsible for specifying and tabulating its own measures of progress in its annual plan. The LAN Factbook, however, promotes consistency of such measures. In FY98, it will include a five-year trend comparison.
  • Subsidized Guardianship Waiver Evaluation--The Office of the Research Director prepared and helped to distribute an RFP for this evaluation. Sixteen research and consulting firms attended a bidders conference in April 1997. Proposals were due June 27. A selection will be made by July 25. A research advisory group appointed by DCFS and the Governor's African American Family Commission will consult with the evaluator. A first round of data collection on 2,900 families and 5,400 children is set for the second half of FY98.

The Research Director also serves as the Department's liaison to the Children and Family Research Center. This joint venture of DCFS and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's School of Social Work completed its first full year of operation in FY97. This included the hiring, after a national search, of its director. The Center's purpose are to:

  • Develop, with the Department, the capacity to monitor and report on outcomes of the agency's efforts on behalf of children and families
  • Initiate and carry out a collaborative research agenda to advance public child welfare reforms and knowledge about child safety, permanency and the well-being of children and families
  • Attract funding for collaborative work with the Department
  • Recruit outstanding scholars, practitioners, managers and students to positions of leadership in child welfare research, administration and education in Illinois.

The Research Center and the Department collaborated on the following research initiatives in FY97:

  • A parent satisfaction pilot survey of DCFS clients
  • The evaluation of the Child Endangerment and Risk Assessment Protocol (with the American Humane Association)
  • A foster parent satisfaction survey (with the Public Opinion Laboratory at Northern Illinois University)
  • A database linking information on child welfare and child maltreatment (with Chapin Hall)
  • A phone survey of LAN planning co-chairs on implementation of the Family Centered Services Initiative
  • An evaluation of the DASA/DCFS Initiative (with the School of Social Service Administration)
  • An analysis of independent living outcomes for foster youth with learning disabilities.

In FY98, DCFS and the Research Center will continue efforts to enhance the capacity to monitor and report on outcomes related to children's health, educational progress and justice. Under a grant from the U.S. Children's Bureau, the Center will draft instruments for evaluation of relative foster homes. It will also work with the CWLA's National Research Consortium to identify outcome measures for evaluating managed care settings. In FY98, the Department will continue to test and refine the Level of Care Protocol for specialized foster care. It will also analyze potential effects of welfare reform on DCFS caseload growth. The results of all these efforts will inform curriculum development, policy formulation, and clinical practice within the agency.

SECTION V: Quality Assurance and Baseline Information

To assure independent review, much of the research and evaluation of DCFS must be external to the agency. However, the Department is also committed to a comprehensive internal program of quality assurance. A plan to ensure that commitment was adopted in FY96. It identifies existing monitoring and reporting activities, develops new linkages and quality initiatives, and uses information from these sources for corrective action, training, and planning. Its major elements include:

  • Pursuit of accreditation by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Children and Families. This is a national accrediting organization that has developed standards for child welfare practice to reflect what is currently recognized as best practice for public as well as private agencies. The process has been underway since 1995. In FY97, it featured extensive self analysis, peer review and site visits. Several specific sites will be accredited this year, with a goal of all sites over four years.
  • Establishment of an Office of Quality Assurance. This office conducts comprehensive reviews of DCFS direct service operations and produces and evaluates outcome information. A field review unit in the office conducts comprehensive reviews based on direct observation. A program analysis unit analyzes Department programs using the agency's computerized information systems. During FY97, the office coordinated the COA accreditation process. It also developed outcome measures and indicators related to the new CFS plan. During FY98, it will be involved in the effort to evaluate effectiveness of the agency's front end redesign initiative.
  • Conducting of regional reviews. Throughout FY97, DCFS executive staff met quarterly with management staff of each region to review performance data and discuss other region-specific issues.
  • Development of Agency Performance Teams. These were established in Cook County during FY97 as part of the Department's redesign of its purchase of service system. Their purpose is to monitor and evaluate performance of private agencies that provide placement services for Cook County wards.
  • Establishment of Quality Councils. A statewide quality council was established in FY97 to act as an advisory board on the planning and administration of quality assurance programs. Regional quality councils and plans also began development during the year. Their goal will be to meet or exceed COA requirements. They will entail a formal peer review process, as well as fatality, placement, and utilization reviews.

In addition to these state-based quality assurance efforts, the Department continued its participation in a pilot program audit with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during FY97. The process began with an agency self-study in early 1996. It included extensive site visits by HHS. In FY97, DCFS submitted its responses to HHS findings. Until now, periodic performance reviews by HHS focused almost exclusively on state foster care programs. The new model, however, covers all federally funded programs administered by DCFS. It will continue in FY98.

Several other agency functions related to quality assurance are discussed elsewhere in this report. They include administrative case reviews, performance contracting, the LAN factbook and SACWIS development. All will continue into FY98.

SECTION VI: Services Offered by DCFS

Child Protective Services are those pertaining to the receipt of allegations of child abuse or neglect, the investigation of such allegations, and follow-up response. DCFS operates a State Central Register which receives and tracks reports. DCFS field staff investigate the reports. Follow-up services are provided by DCFS, other public agencies, and various private agencies.

Family Maintenance Services enable a family to remain intact (or reunite) by preventing further harm to a family's children and stabilizing the home environment. They are designed to promote safe, nurturing homes in situations where families have experienced stresses that impair their parenting abilities. Depending on the individual needs of a family, different combinations of services are used. They may include counseling, advocacy, emergency caretakers, homemakers, child care, family planning, parenting training, self-help groups, emergency shelter, and substance abuse treatment and education.

Substitute Care Services involve placing a child in a foster family home, group home or institution. They are not intended as permanent living arrangements for the child, but as a core service to protect the child while the ultimate goal of returning the child home or developing another permanent living situation is pursued. Substitute care placements are selected to provide secure, nurturing, and homelike settings, preferably in a child's home community. When it is not possible to return a child home and ensure protection, the Department seeks to create a new family through adoption. Longterm foster care with relatives or other foster parents is also considered. For selected older youth who have demonstrated the capability and expressed the desire to live on their own, independent living services are considered a transition to legal adulthood.

Adoption Services are provided by DCFS or its contractors. They include recruitment and preparation of prospective adoptive parents, preparation of the child for placement, pre- and post-placement counseling for the child and family, adoptive subsidies for special needs children, and post-legal adoption services.

Family Centered Services are those provided under terms of the federal Family Centered Services Initiative. They may consist of support services, preservation services, or a blend of both. Support services are preventive in nature and directed toward a general population, such as all young parents in a community. Preservation services help stabilize troubled families in times of risk, crisis or other special need. Both kinds of service build on family and individual strengths. Both are planned and provided at the local level.

Most Youth Services are aimed at non-wards who might otherwise become involved in the state's child welfare or juvenile justice systems. Most are planned and delivered at the community level. They include crisis intervention, delinquency prevention and intervention, emergency shelter, help for pregnant and parenting teens, and transitional services for homeless youth. Independent living training and a combination of other services known collectively as Preparation for Adult Living are provided to children in DCFS care. Such services are reimbursable under Title IV-E. During the most recent reporting period, they reached some 3,000 children. Except for PAL and other programs directed specifically toward agency wards, most youth services will be transferred to the new Illinois Department of Human Services on July 1, 1997.

Day Care Services are defined as the direct care and supervision of children inside or outside of their own homes during any portion of a 24-hour period. They are intended to ensure that the custodial and developmental needs of children are met. Effective July 1, 1997, the administration of most day care services will transfer to the new Department of Human Services. Only those day care services related to child protection and foster care will remain under the purview of DCFS.

All services discussed in this section are available on a statewide basis to those eligible or in need.

SECTION VII: Maintenance of Effort (Non-Supplantation)

The State of Illinois, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Local Area Networks and other contractors to DCFS will not use any funds received under the Child and Family Services Plan to supplant other sources of funds. Audits of all service grants or contracts will be conducted to document the level and appropriateness of expenditures. Maintenance of effort by LANs will be measured during assessment of their service grants. Maintenance of effort at the state level will be attested to in this and subsequent Annual Progress and Services Reports.



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