(Chicago) — The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has taken the lead in restoring funding to vital human services. Having sent notification in mid-June that TASC’c child welfare programs were being zeroed out, DCFS has restored funds to TASC and other service providers to FY09 contract levels.
TASC’s child welfare staff in Cook County and in Southern Illinois, who had been laid off as of July 1, were called back to work on July 6. Now, these workers are reaching out to the 600+ parents and adolescents who were cut from services at the end of June. The financial and clinical toll of the service disruption will likely not be calculable.
An emergency motion filed by the ACLU argued that a reduction in services would be in violation of a consent decree under which DCFS operates. U.S. District Court Judge John F. Grady concurred, ordering that “the state comply with all provisions of the consent decree, including: maintaining all programs and services that DCFS directs to fulfill the detailed requirements of the consent decree” (MSN Money, June 30, 2009).
It is a partial victory for thousands in need, yet communities across the state continue to deal with the fallout from the ongoing budget calamity.
“We are pleased that children and families will again have access to our life-changing child welfare services,” said TASC President Pam Rodriguez. “But this represents only a sliver of the funding that needs to be restored. Thousands of individuals remain in crisis – and each day that passes increases the overall cost to our state and taxpaying citizens.”
TASC’s court-based services, which are funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, have been slashed by 75 percent, and TASC’s community reentry services, funded by the Illinois Department of Corrections, have been cut 25 percent.
One hundred thirty-nine DHS-funded TASC staff are on a two-week unpaid furlough until July 15. More than 1,500 clients have been terminated prematurely from TASC services, and another 1,000 are currently on wait lists across the state.
TASC’s court services, currently suspended, will resume on July 16. The scope and scale of TASC’s service delivery over the coming months remains in question, depending on the timing and the outcome of the budget negotiations in Springfield.
“TASC will continue to aggressively advocate on behalf of the people and communities we serve,” said Ms. Rodriguez. “Now more than ever, as the very infrastructure that serves tens of thousands of Illinoisans is being dismantled, our clients need our strong voices on their behalf.”
The legislature, led by Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan, is due to convene in a joint special session on Tuesday, July 14.