June 29, 2009 1:38 PM
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in federal court today, asking a judge to stop the state child welfare system from eliminating counseling and increasing caseloads as is proposed if a state doomsday budget becomes a reality this week.
The 16-page suit, filed on behalf of 16,000 foster children, charged that the cuts violate a 21-year-old federal consent decree that gives the ACLU oversight of the well being of children in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Cuts would result in violations to the decree that "threaten the health, safety and welfare" of children "who will suffer irreparable harm," the suit alleged.
ACLU and DCFS attorneys plan to appear before a federal judge this evening.
DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe has acknowledged that the $460 million in proposed reductions to the DCFS' budget "threaten to completely dismantle the child welfare system in Illinois."
"It would virtually eliminate all supportive services to children and families in the system," Marlowe said. "Until the general assembly steps forward to fund these services, we have no choice but to plan for operating under the budget they have given us."
DCFS Director Erwin McEwen released a statement Monday saying that since 2003, DCFS has sustained almost $200 million in budget cuts and any additional reductions would bring his agency "dangerously close" to violating this and other consent decrees.
"Given the proposed budget cuts, we acknowledge the impact on the safety ... and well-being of the children we serve," McEwen said. "We can only hope that the right thing will be done by funding these services today, as opposed to wasting valuable time and resources defending lawsuits."
The budget cuts, according to the suit, would violate the consent decree by increasing caseloads of caseworkers and investigators, slashing payments to foster parents by 50 percent, cutting clinical services and eliminating a number of screenings, evaluations and other supports.
"Just the cost of feeding and housing wards and former wards by itself would exceed the budgeted amount for DCFS," the suit charged.
Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris, whose attorneys represent DCFS children in juvenile court, had filed suit last week asking a circuit court judge to stop DCFS from terminating, reducing or suspending counseling and other services that help foster children in crisis. That suit is expected to be heard this afternoon in circuit court.
"People are looking at it as if it's a political fight. The reality is that political fight has spilled over and has started to hurt kids in state care," Harris said.
-- Ofelia Casillas
ACLU files suit for foster care funding - Chicago Breaking News
My Two Cents..
How's that go? Oh yeah follow the money!
This story explains a lot.. how many other parents have pleaded with the ACLU to help with their Civil Rights being violated by the family courts and child protective services?
I know I did! (shaking my head) what a fuckin disgrace!
Refresh - Go to homepage