Child abuse and neglect are on the decline in Illinois. The Child Care Association of Illinois, examining data for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, shows 29,802 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect in Illinois in Fiscal Year 2008, and a projected 21,720 cases in the current fiscal year, 2012, which ends June 30. That’s a 27 percent decrease. Executive Director Marge Berglind says it’s because of programs in Illinois that address problems as soon as they arise.
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“We have excellent what we call intact family care, which is when a family’s first reported, even though there might not be a confirmed case of abuse or neglect but there’s something worrisome about the family, we’re able to get social workers into that home, hook them into community services, perhaps parenting classes, perhaps mental health care, making sure that the child’s enrolled in school,” she said. Berglind says doing this is better for the parents and the child involved, and cheaper for the taxpayers, when you consider the cost of foster care and a case going through the criminal justice system.
This trend is contrary to what would have been expected during tough economic times, when families are under more stress, Berglind says. The state child caseload – children who are wards of the state – is also down over the last 15 years, from 51,000 in 1997 to 18.413 now, a 63 percent decline, largely due to efforts to get children adopted or returned to their birth parents if possible.