Some 300 Department of Children and Family Services employees gathered outside of the Thompson Center in Chicago Wednesday to protest cuts to the DCFS budget. Because of cuts to DCFS in the state budget, 568 employees, many in mid-management, we’re sent layoff notices that are effective Oct. 1. That date could be extended because of collective bargaining agreements.
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But half of those employees are being offered jobs on the front lines such as DCFS investigators, says Kendall Marlowe, DCFS deputy director. A restructuring of DCFS aims to put more people on the front lines rather than behind a desk.The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, the union representing DCFS employees, claims the layoffs eliminate a preventative program that deals with at-risk families. But according to DCFS, the Intact Family Services program remains in place but will be handled by private, non-profit child welfare groups rather than in-house.
Meanwhile Gov. Pat Quinn continues to push to restore full funding to DCFS by closing underused facilities in the state such as Tamms Supermax Prison. “The only time we’re going to be able to deal with this is when the legislature comes back in session and we hope to get the legislature to restore the money to the Department of Children and Family Services for the children,” Quinn said. “I think children are far more important than keeping half-empty facilities open. I think it’s much better to help people rather than keep facilities open that aren’t needed.”
AFSCME also represents employees of the facilities the governor is looking to shutter, but Quinn argues that many of those employees are being offered jobs elsewhere.