WBEZ | DCFS http://www.wbez.org/tags/dcfs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cook County Special Unit Searches for DCFS Runaways http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-special-unit-searches-dcfs-runaways-114621 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="Sgt. Dion Trotter drives around looking for DCFS runaways. He leads a special unit within the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" class="image-original_image" longdesc="Sgt. Dion Trotter drives around looking for DCFS runaways. He leads a special unit within the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dcfs runaways_160127_nm.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 348px;" title="Sgt. Dion Trotter drives around looking for DCFS runaways. He leads a special unit within the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" /></div><p>When minors who are wards of the state go missing in Cook County, it&rsquo;s up to a special team of sheriffs to find them.</p><p>Since 2012 the Child Protective Response Unit has been combing the streets looking for runaways. It has found hundreds of children overseen by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.</p><p>But some say the bureaucracy they encounter after they get picked up is still a problem.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s Natalie Moore took a ride with the runaway unit to see for herself and has this audio postcard.</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is WBEZ&#39; South Side Bureau reporter. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 13:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-special-unit-searches-dcfs-runaways-114621 Federal Funds Unclaimed by Illinois Child Welfare Agency http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-funds-unclaimed-illinois-child-welfare-agency-114461 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/5437895862_fee63dc69f_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO&nbsp;(AP) &mdash; State officials say the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services lost out on millions of dollars in federal money in recent years because it failed to process paperwork.</p><p>Agency Acting Director George Sheldon estimates the agency likely missed out on about $40 million in federal funds in just the past two years.</p><p>He tells the&nbsp;<a href="http://(http://trib.in/1P0Xwh2" target="_blank"><em>ChicagoTribune</em></a> that after a months-long bureaucratic effort to fix the lapses, $21.5 million in new federal funds flowed to the agency this fiscal year.</p><p>Officials say hundreds of agency wards ages 18 to 21 were classified incorrectly, and the agency was collecting a little over half of its entitled federal funds.</p><p>Sheldon says the problem was due to paperwork and was largely a consequence of having eight agency leaders in five years.</p></p> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 11:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-funds-unclaimed-illinois-child-welfare-agency-114461 DCFS Inspector General: 8 State Wards Killed in Street Violence Last Year http://www.wbez.org/news/dcfs-inspector-general-8-state-wards-killed-street-violence-last-year-114406 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/laquan11.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Laquan McDonald, the teenager shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer in October 2014, was one of eight wards of the state killed in street homicides last year, according to a newly released report by the watchdog of Illinois&rsquo; child welfare system. That number is more than twice as many as in any other year of the past five.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Denise Kane, the inspector general of Illinois&rsquo; Department of Children and Family Services, singled out the eight wards killed in street homicides in her latest annual report. She found that in the same time period the previous year, three wards were killed in street homicides.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kane&rsquo;s report says wards killed in the state&rsquo;s 2015 fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, were teenagers, with the youngest being 14. In Illinois, wards can age out of the child welfare system at age 21.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some of the circumstances surrounding the lives of the wards who were killed in street homicides in Kane&rsquo;s latest report point to the challenges DCFS faces in providing services to older teenagers, including some who reject government services. The inspector general found that the mother of one 18-year-old ward who was shot and killed around 7:30 a.m. in August of 2014 had tried to place the teen in a DCFS shelter, but was unsuccessful. When he turned 18 several months before his death, the ward voluntarily left his residential treatment facility to live, unauthorized, in a relative&rsquo;s home, the report states.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A different 18-year-old ward of the state had been placed in a shelter after his adoptive parent made multiple, credible statements about wanting to kill the teen, according to Kane&rsquo;s report. He was largely missing from his shelter in the month leading up to his death in April 2015, and he had requested to return to his adoptive mother. &nbsp;That woman refused to accept him back, the report states. Three months before he died of multiple gunshot wounds, the teen ward became a father.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kane wouldn&rsquo;t comment for this story, but she did include an unusually bold introduction to her report, &nbsp;telling Illinois&rsquo; governor and lawmakers they &ldquo;must have a collective conscience to remedy our social failings.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She also wrote, &ldquo;When a ward is gunned down in the streets by an officer whose duty is to protect and there is no integrity to those reporting the incident, shame on us as a society.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Chicago police officer charged with killing McDonald has pleaded not guilty.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a statement, Andrew Flach, a spokesman for DCFS, wrote, &ldquo;The Department is aware and concerned any time a child in the care of the state dies. However, the statistic should serve as a reminder that children in the care of the state are no more or less immune to the increased threat of street violence than any other child in the state.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold.</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 10:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/dcfs-inspector-general-8-state-wards-killed-street-violence-last-year-114406 Morning Shift: October 8, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-08/morning-shift-october-8-2015-113245 <p><p>They did it and now it&rsquo;s on to St. Louis. Not only did the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-08/cubs-shut-down-pirates-will-move-st-louis-113244">Cubs beat the Pirates</a>, they shut them out 4-0. We have a recap of the game from one of WBEZs most ardent Cubs fans.</p><p>Also, parenting in the 21st century. We examine the case of a Chicago woman who was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-08/parent-watching-window-cited-%E2%80%98inadequate-supervision%E2%80%99-113243">reported for child neglect </a>because her kids were playing outside unsupervised.</p><p>Then, which songs are the most popular choices on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-08/jukebox-project-tracks-most-popular-songs-zipcode-113241">Chicago&rsquo;s jukeboxes</a>? We break down the data by zip code.</p><p>Plus the oud music of musician <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-08/israeli-musician-yair-dalal-tries-bring-peace-and-understanding">Yair Dalal</a>.</p></p> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 12:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-08/morning-shift-october-8-2015-113245 Parent watching from window cited for ‘inadequate supervision’ http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-08/parent-watching-window-cited-%E2%80%98inadequate-supervision%E2%80%99-113243 <p><p>A Chicago mother let her three kids, ages 11, 9 and 5, play in a small park next to her Ukrainian Village apartment. She watched them from the window, but a passerby, seeing no parent, called child and family services, who then cited the mother for child neglect. Specifically it&rsquo;s called &ldquo;inadequate supervision.&rdquo; That&rsquo;s what happened to <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-child-neglect-inadequate-supervision-law-met-20151007-story.html">Natasha Felix</a> two years ago, and she&rsquo;s still dealing with the aftermath.</p><p>And it&rsquo;s a story that&rsquo;s become all too familiar around the country when it comes to parents giving their kids a little space and responsibility. Chicago Tribune&rsquo;s <a href="https://twitter.com/bmrubin?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">Bonnie Miller Rubin</a> wrote about Felix&rsquo;s story. She joins us with more on this case and what it says about parenting in the 21st century.</p></p> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 12:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-08/parent-watching-window-cited-%E2%80%98inadequate-supervision%E2%80%99-113243 DCFS tells providers to prepare for 10 percent cuts as budget impasse continues http://www.wbez.org/news/dcfs-tells-providers-prepare-10-percent-cuts-budget-impasse-continues-112389 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/State-Capitol-Front-1_WBEZ_Tim-Akimoff_4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With no signs of a long-term budget agreement, or break in the political stalemate, contractors with Illinois&rsquo; Dept. of Children and Family Services are being told to prepare for 10 percent cuts.</p><p>The threat of reduced services comes as a federal judge mandated the state continue the same level of care for vulnerable children during the ongoing impasse as it did at the end of the previous fiscal year, which ended June 30. The agency has given no indication of when the 10 percent reduction in contracts would be implemented, leaving child welfare service providers little direction for how to plan their own budgets.</p><p>The order from DCFS to its contractors does not contradict Judge Jorge Alonso&rsquo;s ruling on the existing consent decree, which was intended to provide consistency to service providers. The threat of reductions adds to the uncertainty many child welfare providers, including Children&rsquo;s Home and Aid, have faced since July 1. Those groups are now left to balance maintaining the same level of services for now, while potentially facing a condensed schedule later in the fiscal year to enact drastic cuts.</p><p>&ldquo;Where the contracts, I think, create some confusion, is while they don&rsquo;t deal immediately with July 1, they give us a number to work toward for the entire fiscal year, and that number is certainly being reduced,&rdquo; said Jassen Strokosch, with Children&rsquo;s Home and Aid.</p><p>Strokosch said his agency has contracts with DCFS to continue providing payments to foster care families or investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect in the short-term in compliance with Judge Alonso&rsquo;s mandate. But he said administrators at Children&rsquo;s Home and Aid remain unclear on several fronts, including what services would be cut, and whether its current court-mandated contracts will end if there&rsquo;s a budget agreement from state lawmakers and the governor.</p><p>Strokosch also doesn&rsquo;t know if Children&rsquo;s Home and Aid will have to eventually absorb the full 10 percent in reductions later in the fiscal year, or if it should begin implementing those cuts immediately.</p><p>&ldquo;In response to ongoing budget negotiations, we have been required to initiate steps to responsibly manage the departments (<em>sic</em>) finances and have cut contracts by 10 percent,&rdquo; DCFS spokeswoman Veronica Resa said in an emailed statement responding to questions about how the department settled on telling contractors to cut 10 percent when there hasn&rsquo;t been a set budget agreement.</p><p>&ldquo;They don&rsquo;t yet know, and so we don&rsquo;t yet know, what they want to do 10 percent fewer of if that indeed would be the full amount that&rsquo;s cut for the full year&rsquo;s budget,&rdquo; said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois, which represents the political and financial interests of many DCFS contractors.</p><p>But not all observers are sure the cuts will happen.</p><p>American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ben Wolf has taken DCFS to court several times over the past few decades over the quality of services provided to youth. He said he didn&rsquo;t believe the 10 percent cuts to be &ldquo;real&rdquo; and that amount could change depending on the overall state budget that may eventually be adopted.</p><p>&ldquo;It certainly would be bad for the children if some of the better non-profit agencies started to have to feel like they can&rsquo;t plan for the future and they have to lay off staff,&rdquo; Wolf said. &ldquo;Any tentative, interim, proposed cuts that the people have heard about will not be maintained if they are inconsistent with the consent decree, which means they should not be maintained if they cause harm to children in the custody of the state.&rdquo;</p><p>Wolf said he can&rsquo;t go back to Judge Alonso over the possibility of budget cuts yet. But he&rsquo;ll be watching to see if child welfare providers end up cutting their services now in response to the threat of cuts and if those reductions in services end up violating the federal judge&rsquo;s court order that was intended to maintain a level of consistency during budget negotiations between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders Michael Madigan and John Cullerton. Both Rauner and Madigan have said they&rsquo;re open to a full state budget that reflects cuts in government services and increases in revenue, but no specific agreement has been reached.</p><p>&ldquo;The future in Illinois is somewhat uncertain but I think the protections of our consent decree are quite a bit more certain than most of the Illinois budget,&rdquo; Wolf said.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold"><em>@tonyjarnold</em></a><em>.</em></p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Shannon Heffernan contributed reporting to this story. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h"><em>@shannon_h</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 14 Jul 2015 14:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/dcfs-tells-providers-prepare-10-percent-cuts-budget-impasse-continues-112389 'Lifebooks' Help Kids in Foster Care Track Their History http://www.wbez.org/news/lifebooks-help-kids-foster-care-track-their-history-112056 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/samplepage.PNG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-bda242b5-6e5f-ad4c-c29a-cae2bddb31ff">Lacy is eight years old, though that&rsquo;s not her real name. Lacy&rsquo;s adoptive mom, Rebecca McClintock, asked us to disguise her daughter&rsquo;s identity because we&rsquo;re going to be talking about her past, and a lot of it is painful.</p><p dir="ltr">Lacy came to live with McClintock as a foster child about a year and a half ago. McClintock said she got a call from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in the middle of the afternoon.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She&rsquo;s been in a foster home that wasn&rsquo;t working out and they needed to pull her from there quickly. And three hours later she was on my doorstep with her little tiny Winnie the Pooh suitcase and a caseworker and a piece of pizza,&rdquo; McClintock remembers.</p><p dir="ltr">McClintock&rsquo;s flat in La Grange, Ill., was Lacy&rsquo;s fourth home in just six years.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She remembered the last home, but not anything before that. And so she defined herself by that family and their treatment of her, and came in a lot talking about how nobody could love her and she wasn&rsquo;t worth anything and they should just throw her in the trash because nobody really needed her,&rdquo; McClintock says.</p><p dir="ltr">When I visited McClintock and Lacy at home last month, I tried to ask Lacy about that family, but she burst out crying and ran to hide under the covers of her mom&rsquo;s bed.</p><p dir="ltr">McClintock said Lacy&rsquo;s foster parents were abusive, and she has bad memories. And those can be really hard to talk about, especially for a little kid. One thing that&rsquo;s helped Lacy open up, and helped Lacy and McClintock grow closer, is something called a Lifebook.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the more popular versions of the Lifebook is published by <a href="http://www.lssi.org/">Lutheran Social Services of Illinois</a> - or LSSI.</p><p dir="ltr">Ruth Jajko is in charge of child welfare in Cook County for LSSI. I visited her at her office in Des Plaines, Ill., and she showed me an example of the book they use with the thousands of kids they work with in Illinois.</p><p dir="ltr">The binder she showed me looked a lot like a baby book. It&rsquo;s a collection of pictures, mementos and memories--the sorts of things that people who grew up with their birth parents might find tucked away in a box in the closet, or hear about from their mom or dad around the dinner table.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Lifebooks are a place to collect bits of history like that, but there&rsquo;s another purpose: The books are designed &nbsp;to give kids a way to talk about the trauma they&rsquo;ve been through. Like, at the top of one page is this prompt: &nbsp;&ldquo;Why I don&rsquo;t live with my birth parents anymore.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Below that is a heartbreaking list of options for the child to select.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It feels stark, right? [But] this page if you notice doesn&rsquo;t come at the beginning, there&rsquo;s been a lot of moving up to it,&rdquo; Jajko says.</p><p dir="ltr">About six months after Lacy came to live with McClintock, the two of them started working on a Lifebook with a woman from LSSI. McClintock says she was like a &ldquo;great detective.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She brought us letters from the first two foster homes, and the letters talked about how she as a little tiny baby would always scooch and put her head in the corner of the crib and she would sleep in the corner of the crib.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">McClintock says those little details meant the world to Lacy.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t hear anymore that nobody loved her, because she had proof that people did when she was just a few days old,&rdquo; McClintock says.</p><p dir="ltr">And It&rsquo;s real, intimate details like that that get lost for foster kids, especially ones like Lacy who are bounced around a lot.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;One of the things that&rsquo;s true about the system in Illinois is that we have a low rate of removal, meaning we don&rsquo;t bring that many kids into care.&hellip; But once we get kids into foster care we don&rsquo;t do a very good job as a state of getting them into permanency quickly, so kids tend to languish in the system too long in Illinois,&rdquo; Jajko says. &ldquo;So that means they have an extended period of time when they&rsquo;re in this kind of limbo status. &ldquo;</p><p dir="ltr">That&#39;s a critical, ongoing issue for the state, and no one&#39;s pretending lifebooks will solve that problem. But Jajko says the books can help kids grow up whole despite the turmoil.</p><p dir="ltr">And recently, Rachael Kerrick with DCFS said the department is spending about $450,000 to buy a Lifebook for every kid in the foster care system.</p><p dir="ltr">Kerrick said the Lifebook has long been a part of best practices for the agency, but they are re-emphasizing its importance and value to the workers in the field.</p><p dir="ltr">And this is the first time the department has spent the money to buy a uniform book for every kid.</p><p dir="ltr">When I told Jeanne Howard about the department&rsquo;s plan, she said she said &ldquo;Hallelujah.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Howard used to run the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University. She says the only way for a child not to be haunted by her past is to confront it, and the Lifebook helps kids do just that.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Children who&rsquo;ve experienced trauma re-live it every day. Every minute of every day,&rdquo; she says.</p><p dir="ltr">And Howard says children are natural storytellers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So when we don&rsquo;t give a kid &nbsp;information, they turn it into a story. And usually that story is about themselves. It&rsquo;s about I was such a bad baby and I cried so much that my mommy hit me and I had to be taken away,&rdquo; Howard explains.</p><p dir="ltr">Lacy&rsquo;s adoption became official in February, and McClintock says she&rsquo;s starting to trust that this is her permanent home. The two of them are forming a family together. And it&rsquo;s being built on a foundation with a little more knowledge of Lacy&rsquo;s early years.</p><p>For most people, birth parents are the keepers of their stories. Jeanne Howard says when the state takes over as a child&rsquo;s guardian, one of its fundamental responsibilities is to be a keeper of that child&rsquo;s story. To save it for them until they are ready to confront it, and explain it to them in a way that helps them grow and prosper.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 19 May 2015 17:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lifebooks-help-kids-foster-care-track-their-history-112056 Morning Shift: Summer jobs not what they used to be http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-05-07/morning-shift-summer-jobs-not-what-they-used-be-111998 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rafael-castillo.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/rafael-castillo" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/204369933&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Education funding bill in Indiana</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The state of Indiana is sitting on a $2 billion budget surplus but yet many of its public school districts are facing financial turmoil. So much so that at least four school districts in Northwest Indiana this week needed voters to approve providing more funding. All of them - except for the Gary school district - got that approval. So, what&rsquo;s next for the struggle Gary schools now that it will be without $52 million in added funding? And why is Indiana&rsquo;s system of school funding so confusing, complex and seems to work against struggling urban school districts like Gary? Joining us to talk about these issues is WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente, and Dennis Costerison, director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:</strong><em>&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">Michael Puente</a> is a WBEZ reporter.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em><a href="http://www.indiana-asbo.org/iasbo/staff/">Dennis Costerison</a> is the Executive Director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/204369926&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">DCFS Director George Sheldon</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">George Sheldon comes to Illinois&rsquo; Dept. of Children and Family Services at a shaky time. The agency has had<a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/02/social-services-illinois"> five directors</a> in a year and a half. The turnover could be attributed to the scrutiny DCFS has been under after a series of investigative reports. Back in 2013 <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/dcfs?page=2">WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times reported</a> that more kids were dying than at any time in the past 30 years, despite being watched by state welfare officials. Late last year, Chicago Tribune reported young people at residential treatment centers across the state reported abuse, sexual assault and some ended up in prostitution. Acting Director Sheldon gets high marks for turning around a troubled agency in Florida, but can he turn around an Illinois&rsquo; Dept. that&rsquo;s so in need of reform? We talk to Sheldon.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:</strong><em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.illinois.gov/dcfs/aboutus/director/Documents/management_team_bios.pdf">George Sheldon</a> is the Acting Director of the <a href="http://www.illinois.gov/dcfs/Pages/default.aspx">Illinois Department of Children and Family Services</a>.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/204369919&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Summer jobs not what they used to be</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">For decades, college students could pay for a whole semester of tuition with the money earned from a summer job. From camp counselors to mowing lawns to working retail, there were a range of jobs you could pick up for the summer, bust your butt and make a nice chunk of cash. Those days are gone. Loyola University professor Al Gini takes us through the modern realities of the summer job scene.&nbsp;Looking for a summer gig? One Summer Chicago aims to bring together government institutions, community-based organizations and companies to offer over 24,000 employment and internship opportunities to youth and young adults ages 14 to 24. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.onesummerchicago.org/">onesummerchicago.org.</a></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/Loyola_Gini">Al Gini</a> is a professor at <a href="https://twitter.com/LoyolaChicago">Loyola University.</a></em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/204369915&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Chicago hosts Young Adult Book Fest</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Remember the days of constantly seeing young people buried in their hardcover Harry Potter book? It was a huge phenomenon and middle school students and young teens couldn&rsquo;t get their hands on the latest copy fast enough. And then something happened- their older siblings, and even parents, wanted to read the books, too. Young adult literature is not such a strict genre anymore. Film franchises like The Hunger Games and Divergent have made them popular for a larger set of readers and authors are becoming more adventurous about what they&rsquo;re tackling in their books. This weekend, authors and fans will converge on the city for the first ever<a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/event/CYABookFest2015"> Chicago Young Adult Book Fest</a>, a place for authors, readers and fans to come together and talk about the genre. Ted Geoglein, author of The Cold Fury trilogy, organized the fest and he gives us a preview.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="http://www.tmgoeglein.com/">Ted Geoglein</a> is the author of <a href="http://www.tmgoeglein.com/index.php/books">&quot;The Cold Fury&quot; </a>series.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em><a href="https://twitter.com/BookCellar">Suzy Takacs</a> is the owner of <a href="http://t.co/dKqjgcyByf">The Book Cellar</a> in Lincoln Square.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 07 May 2015 07:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-05-07/morning-shift-summer-jobs-not-what-they-used-be-111998 Cook County demands payment from state for kids left waiting in jail http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-demands-payment-state-kids-left-waiting-jail-111702 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/JTDC Juvenile 4_WBEZ_Bill Healy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For the first time ever, Cook County is sending a bill to the State of Illinois for the cost of holding state wards left waiting at the juvenile jail by the Department of Children and Family Services.</p><p>The decision to demand reimbursement is part of a larger push back by the county against the human and financial costs of the failures of the state&rsquo;s child welfare agency.</p><p>It comes after a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-child-welfare-system-leaves-kids-stuck-jail-111576">recent WBEZ investigation</a> found that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) routinely leaves hundreds of kids stuck behind bars for weeks, or even months, after a judge has said they can go home. Because they are wards of the state, the kids can&rsquo;t leave the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center until the department finds them proper placement.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-judge-takes-action-kids-left-jail-after-wbez-investigates-111680">Federal Judge takes action on kids left in jail by DCFS</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;The message is that we don&rsquo;t care about them, and that we think their liberty isn&rsquo;t an important issue. And I think that&rsquo;s a terrible message to send to young people,&rdquo; said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.</p><p>And Preckwinkle said it&rsquo;s a financial burden for the county.</p><p>&ldquo;The obligation of every executive is to run their unit of government to the best of your ability. And that means you don&rsquo;t cost-shift your financial obligations and burdens,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Preckwinkle said the impact on children is her main concern, &ldquo;but the money is not a trivial matter either.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Preckwinkle said she is glad to hear that outgoing Cook County Juvenile Detention Center administrator Earl Dunlap is sending a bill to the state.</p><p>&ldquo;And I&rsquo;d be happy to second the motion,&rdquo; Preckwinkle said.</p><p>The invoice being sent to DCFS covers just two months&mdash;December and January&mdash;and it comes to $232,750.</p><p>The invoice is for 41 DCFS wards who spent a combined 665 days in jail after a judge told them they were free to go.</p><p>The juvenile jail is in Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele&rsquo;s district. And he recognizes that at that rate, the cost could amount to $1.5 million a year.</p><p>&ldquo;So that&rsquo;s a huge burden to Cook County and its taxpayers,&rdquo; Steele said.</p><p>Along with the invoice is <a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/258641119/Letter-from-Earl-Dunlap-to-DCFS" target="_blank">a letter from juvenile jail administrator Dunlap to DCFS Director George Sheldon</a>. In it, Dunlap blasts the department for the &ldquo;agency&rsquo;s willful disregard to juveniles&rsquo; constitutional rights.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Prolonged stays at [the juvenile jail] for children awaiting DCFS placement &hellip; can cause lasting damage to a youth,&rdquo; Dunlap wrote.</p><p>Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans oversees the juvenile jail. He said he&rsquo;s not particularly concerned about which agency foots the bill.</p><p>&ldquo;The counties pull from the same taxpayers that pay the taxes on a statewide basis, so the main thing is that we don&rsquo;t want taxpayers to have to pay for anything unnecessarily,&rdquo; Evans said.</p><p>WBEZ interviewed Evans in late February. He said on the day of the interview there were 12 state wards in the juvenile jail waiting on DCFS.</p><p>&ldquo;Many of them are suffering already &hellip; many of them, they&rsquo;ve been abused and neglected on one side and then they engage in some delinquent conduct on the other side. And so they&rsquo;re already subjected to trauma in many instances and having them stay longer in a place they shouldn&rsquo;t be in just exacerbates the problem,&rdquo; Evans said.</p><p>DCFS spokesman Andrew Flach says his department has not yet received the invoice. But he&rsquo;s acknowledged the issue, and said he believes the agency&rsquo;s new leader will bring stability to the department.</p><p>&ldquo;The governor has made it a priority to help turn the agency around, and that&rsquo;s bringing someone in like Director George Sheldon &hellip;&nbsp; to help us get the job done,&rdquo; Flach said.</p><p>Cook County&rsquo;s demand for repayment comes at a particularly bad time for the state government. Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling for massive cuts to close a multi-billion dollar budget gap.</p><p><em><a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">Patrick Smith</a> is a WBEZ producer and reporter.</em></p></p> Sun, 15 Mar 2015 06:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-demands-payment-state-kids-left-waiting-jail-111702 Federal judge takes action on kids left in jail after WBEZ investigates http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-judge-takes-action-kids-left-jail-after-wbez-investigates-111680 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/new%20JTDC%20Bill%20Healy%203.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The Cook County Juvenile Center. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p>The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is agreeing to let outside experts monitor the department&rsquo;s placement practices and inspect its residential treatment centers.</p><p>Judge Jorge Alonso signed off on the interim plan in federal court on Tuesday. The agreement is in response to an emergency motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.</p><p>The experts, Dr. Alan Morris and Deann Muehlbauer of the University of Illinois at Chicago, will inspect residential treatment centers, interview state wards and provide monthly reports on the practices and progress of the department.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s just some immediate steps to begin to address the serious problems that we&rsquo;ve raised in our emergency motion,&rdquo; said ACLU attorney Ben Wolf.</p><p>One of the groups meant to be helped by the interim plan are kids who are stuck waiting behind bars because the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) can&rsquo;t find an appropriate place for them to live.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-child-welfare-system-leaves-kids-stuck-jail-111576">A recent WBEZ investigation</a> found that over a three-year period there were almost 350 instances in which a young person waited a week or more in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center because DCFS couldn&rsquo;t place him. The longest wait was 190 days.</p><p>&ldquo;As WBEZ reported, there are children trapped in correctional settings when they&rsquo;ve been ordered released and I represent some of those children &hellip; and that&rsquo;s a horrible thing,&rdquo; Wolf said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve talked to some of those kids who are ordered released and then they&rsquo;re still in a locked juvenile detention facility only because their state parent, the department, doesn&rsquo;t have some place for them to live. I mean that&rsquo;s really inexcusable and I&rsquo;d like to start with those kinds of kids and see what we can do for them.&rdquo;</p><p>At the same time, a <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/rtc/">recent series by the Chicago Tribune</a> highlighted abuse and unsafe conditions at several residential treatment centers that provide care for state wards.</p><p>&ldquo;The first steps are to start to look at the most troubled residential treatment centers and to figure out if we need to close them [or] if we can provide technical assistance to fix them,&rdquo; Wolf said. &ldquo;And if we can&rsquo;t where the kids will go.&rdquo;</p><p>Wolf acknowledged that these competing problems make for a tough situation for the department. Closing troubled residential treatment centers will mean even less available beds for the kids stuck waiting in jail or in psychiatric hospitals for placement.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re gonna be struggling with shortages, and we&rsquo;re going to be gluing together packages of services and placements that are the best we can do but are not perfect, and we have to be realistic about that,&rdquo; Wolf said. &ldquo;I think the solution has to be intensive services in home-like settings.&rdquo;</p><p>DCFS spokesman Andrew Flach said in a statement that the department is &ldquo;encouraged&rdquo; by the interim agreement with the ACLU and looks forward to working with it and other stakeholders to &ldquo;ensure the agreement is implemented to the satisfaction of the court and the children and families we serve.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">Patrick Smith</a> is a WBEZ producer.</em></p></p> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 15:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-judge-takes-action-kids-left-jail-after-wbez-investigates-111680