Governor Pat Quinn says the budget legislators approved for the state’s child welfare agency is ” not acceptable.” But lawmakers defend their decision. Amanda Vinicky reports.
The Department of Children and Family Services is sounding warnings about the consequences of an 85 million dollar budget cut.
“Very important work that protects children and prevents them from having to enter foster care, such as child abuse prevention, such as serving families that are still together, still intact, may have to be significantly reduced, nearly eliminated in order of us to meet this server budget cut from the General Assembly,” DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said.
Marlowe said the reduction means 12% of the agency’s employees could be laid off. The Governor says he’s unhappy with the cuts, and hinted that he’ll do something to try to prevent them when he acts on the budget later this month.
But legislators on the House committee in charge of funding for human services stand by the reductions. Democratic Representative Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago, who chairs the panel, says legislators protected services directly affecting children. But she says they cut personnel funding after learning the agency gave its employees what she called “significant” raises.
“It was a little disappointing to some of our committee members who vocalized that the department needs to restructure its priorities. There were a lot of very unhappy committee members,” Feigenholtz said.
DCFS says it had no choice because the raises were contractually guaranteed, but Quinn has made the opposite argument in court, after last summer cancelling raises guaranteed to employees of other state agencies.