IL -- Feburary 2,2000 -- Governor
George H. Ryan today proposed a $1.4 billion fiscal year 2001 budget for
the Department of Children and Family Services, which includes $59.5 million
to fund a net increase of 5,200 children through the subsidized adoption
and guardianship programs.
Early in the fiscal year the Department will pass an important
milestone when the number of former wards of the state supported in loving,
permanent homes through adoption and guardianship subsidies exceeds the
number of children supported in substitute care placements.
the end of fiscal year 1997 there were 50,727 children in substitute care.
By the end of fiscal year 2001 there will be just 27,330 children
in out-of-home care, a 46 percent reduction in just four years.
The state will then have fewer children in custody than at any
point since April 1992.
By contrast, there were only 11,539 children receiving adoption
and guardianship subsidies at the end of fiscal year 1997.
At the end of fiscal year 2001 there will be 36,795, a 218.9 percent
Illinois led the nation in the growth in the number of adoptions
completed in 1998 and again in 1999.
The state has moved from being a low performer in the proportion
of children adopted each year to the best in the nation.
changes that have taken place in the state’s child welfare system
have been truly remarkable,” Ryan said.
“The reforms of DCFS have resulted in dramatically better
government services, but most importantly, they have improved the lives
of thousands of the state’s most vulnerable citizens; abused and
department has also continued to do a better job of assessing the risk
children face and disrupting families only when it is truly necessary
to protect the child.
While fewer children are being brought into state custody, the
number of children who are found to be abused again after DCFS involvement
has declined,” the Governor added.
number of children brought into care for the first time in fiscal year
1999 (8,186) was less than half of what it was in fiscal year 1995 (16,431).
In addition, instances of re-abuse have also fallen by more than
The department’s budget grew at
double-digit percentage rates every year between fiscal year 1989 and
fiscal year 1997.
However, since FY97, management reforms have allowed DCFS’
budgets to remain level.
In fact, the department’s total FY2001 budget will increase
by a mere 0.1 percent - $1.2 million.
DCFS Director Jess McDonald noted that
the caseloads and budgets for child welfare in most states continue to
He indicated that the turnaround in Illinois has been achieved
through a series of major reforms and the work of many different people,
including reforms of relative and residential care passed by the General
Assembly in 1995.
More recently, federal and state permanency legislation passed
in 1997, special efforts to promote permanency in the Cook County courts,
and the department’s own performance contracting initiative have
contributed to the dramatic increase in the movement of children to permanency.
“The new laws sent a clear message
that it is important to move children through the system quickly,”
said Director McDonald.
“Judges throughout the state, and particularly in Cook County,
quickly embraced these new laws and set about making them work for children.
The department and private agencies agreed to a performance contracting
system that rewarded good results and the private sector responded by
moving thousands of children out of state custody.
It took thousands of people to make this work.”
The state’s subsidized guardianship
program is another important factor in the increased movement of children
out of state custody.
Since 1996, the state has been able to provide subsidies to families
who accept guardianship of a child, even if parental rights have not been
terminated, through a federal waiver.
This option is not available in other states.
At of the end of fiscal year 2001, there will be 5,440 children
receiving support through this program.
Almost all of these children would still be in state care without
Progress also continues to be made in limiting the number of children
placed in restrictive residential settings.
By the end of fiscal year 2001, there will be fewer children placed
in residential settings than at any time since fiscal year 1991 and there
will be 44 percent fewer than there were at the end of fiscal year 1995.
In addition, the number of children placed in residential settings
outside of Illinois will fall below 100, from a high point of 792 in May
Already, 95 percent of out-of-state placements are either in contiguous
states or in secured facilities that are not yet available in Illinois.
An additional $599,800 has been included
to increase funding of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs).
These centers coordinate the activities of various agencies involved
in the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child sexual abuse
cases and serious child physical abuse cases.
The department considers CACs to be an important part of its effort
to improve decision-making and early treatment for some of the most serious
cases it sees.
This budget will also support the department’s
efforts to improve the quality of the services it delivers.
In particular, the budget will allow DCFS to continue its effort
to become accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Children
Achieving this distinction would mean DCFS’ services meet
the national standard of excellence in social work.
At this time, Oklahoma is the only accredited state child welfare
The agency as a whole will be accredited during fiscal year 2001.
In addition, all private agency foster care providers must be accredited
by the end of fiscal year 2001.