ACLU Forces DCFS to Reduce Caseloads, Add More Staff - The Chicago Family Law Blog

The Chicago Family Law Blog

ACLU Forces DCFS to Reduce Caseloads, Add More Staff

An agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Department of Children and Family Services should mean more investigators for DCFS and better protection for Illinois children, reports NBC Chicago. The agreement, which will require the hiring of more staff despite budge cutbacks, was part of litigation that dates back to 1991.

That 1991 case settled with an agreement to resolve ongoing issues with DCFS’ treatment of child abuse and neglect cases. The original problem was similar to the present one: understaffing. The agreement required that case workers be limited to 12 new cases per month for nine months out of the year and 15 new cases per month in three months out of the year.

Recent budget cutbacks have strained the department's resources, however, and have resulted in less investigators covering more cases. In some instances, there were as many as 20 new cases per month.

There was also an ongoing issue with backlog. At the end of February, the department had 2,400 cases that were overdue, meaning they hadn't been resolved within 60 days. The problem was been addressed and the backlog has been cut down to a little more than 300 as of this week.

The ACLU's ability to act as a watchdog was aided in large part to that original 1991 case. As part of the settlement, a consent decree was reached. These decrees allow a party, and the court, to monitor the offending party to ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement. These are often used in employment cases where the government wants to ensure that the employer is continuing to provide sexual harassment training or other remedial measures.

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