Rezin questions DCFS, DHR about caseloads at Senate panel hearing
Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) wanted more information on caseloads at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Illinois Department of Human Rights at the April 17 Senate Appropriations I Committee hearing.
Rezin respectively discussed investigation caseloads with DCFS Director Beverly Walker and DHR Director Janice Glenn, first asking Walker how the caseload peak for foster care dropped significantly in the last several years.
“Has the department achieved timelier permanent placements for children in foster care?” Rezin asked.
The director questioned where Rezin was getting her figures “My opinion is we are actually seeing an increase in our caseload,” Walker said, adding case upsurge is being driven by the opioid crisis specifically in the northern and central areas of the state.
Rezin said she realized she was looking at substantive care figures rather than foster care placement, but the lack of communication conveyed the seriousness of the crisis on the foster care system.
“When I came we had about 16,000 and a hundred or so kids in care, and last week I looked and saw we have about 16,000 and seven to eight hundred,” Walker said.
Rezin then directed her questions to DHR, asking how many cases the the department investigates a year.
She was told approximately 3,000 annually by 40 to 60 officers, but Rezin wanted more details.
“Is the investigator the same person answering the phone when the calls come in or is that someone different?” Rezin asked.
Alex Bautista, DHR deputy director, told Rezin a separate employee answers intake calls, prompting Rezin to query the average number of hours an investigator spends on a case from open to close.
Based on statute, Bautista said DHR has 365 days to complete a case but would have to get back to the senator on the approximate time it actually takes for each case to be completed.
“So, you are saying you have approximately 3,000 open cases during the course of a year,” Rezin asked.
Agreeing, Bautista said the department does attempt to close them quicker.