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Gov. Blagojevich budget plan for DCFS focuses on improving long-term success of youth in State's custody

Reforms identified to improve the quality of care and expand support services for older wards

see also: FY 2006 Budget Briefing

SPRINGFIELD (February 16, 2005) - Governor Rod Blagojevich today proposed a Fiscal Year 2006 budget for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) that more effectively provides for high quality services to the state's most vulnerable citizens- abused and neglected children.

"The proposed budget affirms the Governor's commitment to ensure that every child matters," said DCFS Director Bryan Samuels. "It also illustrates that by continuing to focus on its core mission, DCFS can operate effectively in a tough fiscal climate."

The $1.3 billion dollar FY06 budget proposal for DCFS includes $825 million from the General Revenue Fund, up from $781 million in fiscal year 2005. DCFS plans to focus state dollars on appropriate treatment protocols, programs and opportunities that specialize in childhood trauma. The Department also intends to sustain the private agency foster care caseload ratios, redesigned in FY05, to assist in improving the quality of the casework.

The FY06 budget focuses on meeting the physical, developmental, educational and emotional needs of the increasingly older mix of children in the DCFS system. Funding has been identified for the redesign of the Transitional Living and Independent Living Programs that will provide a seamless continuum of services for youth transitioning to adulthood. Additionally, the Intensive Stabilization initiative includes a series of targeted strategies to stabilize older youth who have lived in multiple placements and have a pattern of run-away behavior.

The Governor's budget plan also includes $30 million dollars to support service enhancements mandated by the federal government as part of their comprehensive federal review process. The Program Improvement Plan submitted to and approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contained strategies that will strengthen the delivery of much needed services, such as mental health services, to children in the DCFS system.

The budget proposal also reflects the overall decline in caseloads. The approximately 18,000 children in the DCFS system is the lowest level in 15 years, down from over 51,000 in 1997.

"The decline in caseloads offers us an opportunity to focus on the quality of care rather than on the quantity," said Director Samuels. "In 1997, we worried about whether or not there was a bed available for a child entering the system. Now, DCFS can focus on providing quality care for children and, fulfill its obligation to prepare them for a healthy and productive life."

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Diane Jackson
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services


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