“Funding for DCFS continues to rise, and at the same time, so do tragic deaths of at-risk kids that have had previous contact with the agency. Clearly, money alone isn’t the answer. We need reforms and we need increased accountability,” said Rep. Frese.
Rep. Frese along with other members of the Sustaining and Protecting At Risk Kids (S.P.A.R.K.) Working Group this spring introduced new legislation to protect children in the state’s care, and on the “radar” of the Department of Children and Family Services.
Reforms introduced by the S.P.A.R.K. Working Group include:
- House Bill 3471, allows local law enforcement to conduct their own abuse and neglect investigations and requires DCFS to share their investigation reports with local County State’s Attorneys;
- House Bill 3002, creates an independent Ombudsperson to investigate complaints against DCFS, provide recommendations, and report to law enforcement when necessary;
- House Bill 2935, requires DCFS to establish a caseload tracking system which will monitor and evaluate the interrelationship between case plans, the Department’s case tracking system, and work responsibilities;
- House Bill 3614, provides that prior to final approval for placement of a child, the Illinois State Police conduct a criminal records background check of the prospective foster or adoptive parents; and
- House Bill 3618, requires DCFS to develop a plan to phase in mandatory intact family services for at-risk families who are in need of continuing assistance and monitoring following an abuse or neglect investigation.
Rep. Frese said he and his colleagues will continue to push for needed reforms during the General Assembly’s fall veto session.