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Pritzker’s proposed budget adds $147 million for DCFS

By Tahman Bradley and WGN Web Desk

Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed second-year budget adds $147 million in funding for Illinois’ child-welfare agency.

The money will be used to increase the Department of Children and Family Services staffing to 3,056 up from 2,758 in 2018 and provide cost-of-living raises for private care providers.

DCFS missteps have made headlines in recent years.

But perhaps the agency’s most high-profile failure was the case of 5-year-old AJ Freund, whose mother pleaded guilty to his murder.

“I can’t even — it’s hard to tell you exactly how it feels as the head of state that ought to be caring for these children,” said Pritzker.

Last summer, Pritzker told WGN he wanted more systems in place to remove children from abusive homes. The increase in agency staffing should reduce the workload for investigators and add more staff to field hotline calls with reports of abuse.

For decades, the ACLU Illinois has monitored DCFS. On Monday, it applauded the funding boost.

“We’ve seen time and again that’s it’s not just about resources although those are important — but it’s about having the ability to say what does this child need and how do I provide it?” ACLU Illinois spokesperson Ed Yohnka said.

“I am pleased that, after years of neglect, DCFS’s budget will finally see an increase for the second year in a row…we will be closely monitoring DCFS’s implementation and use of these new funds to ensure that they translate to actual improved outcomes for the state’s most vulnerable children,” the Cook County Public Guardian said.

The DCFS funding hike is not the only new spending we expect Governor Pritzker to propose.

This article originally appeared on WGN.

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