Updated: May 1, 2012 10:40PM
An analysis of state child welfare data that shows a projected 24 percent drop of confirmed child abuse and neglect in Illinois since 2008 is being hailed by child welfare advocates in Illinois.
The analysis, released Tuesday by the Child Care Association of Illinois, shows there were 29,802 cases of confirmed child abuse or neglect in Illinois in fiscal year 2008, and by annualizing the first seven months of fiscal year 2012 data, there will be 21,720 confirmed cases, which constitutes a 27 percent decrease, a release from the Child Care Association of Illinois said.
“Our review of the Illinois Department Children and Family Services data reveals concretely what we in the field knew intuitively–Illinois children are safer today than they were even just four years ago,” Child Care Association President Margaret Berglind said.
“We are on our way to see a 27 percent decrease in child abuse and neglect in Illinois,” Berglind said. “That accomplishment is due to combined efforts of DCFS and private child welfare agencies to continue to implement the reforms that began in 1995.”
Berglind noted that the DCFS data is on track to reveal child safety progress on multiple fronts, including child sex abuse, substance abuse-exposed babies, and child deaths.
“If the current trends continue, child deaths, as a result of abuse or neglect, are set to fall by 60 percent,” Berglind said. “This good news confirms that the Illinois child welfare system is effectively doing its job–which is protecting children.”
Berglind also noted that there are fewer children in state care. Illinois has reduced its child caseload from nearly 51,000 from 1997 to 18,413 in 2012—a 63 percent reduction in the foster care caseload compared to a national reduction of 24 percent.
Additionally, more children have been placed in permanent homes, the release said. More than 40,000 children moved out of foster care to adoption and guardianship over the last decade, Berglind noted.
Berglind did however sound a cautionary note that Illinois’ protection progress could be jeopardized if the Illinois General Assembly further cuts the DCFS budget by more than the $44 million recommended by Gov. Pat Quinn.
“While the Illinois General Assembly and DCFS have implemented legislative and program reform to overhaul the Illinois child welfare system, the state’s performance is still significantly governed by eight court consent decree settlements,” Berglind said. “If the legislature cuts the DCFS budget too deeply, the state risks undermining the safety of children and risks court action.”
In 2008, the state provided $897 million of its own money to DCFS. For next year, according to the release, Quinn is proposing to spend only $746 million of general revenue money, or a 16.8 percent reduction