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Illinois Foster Care System Feels Pinch from Budget Cuts

October 30, 2008

Chicago, IL – Bring back the funding Illinois children need to thrive. That's the message from foster care advocates and providers who are urging Governor Blagojevich to sign legislation restoring funds cut from the budget. Those cuts have reduced staff at the Department of Children and Family Services as well as payments for foster homes and services.

Dave Roth with Lutheran Child and Family Services says, for many children, the cuts mean their time in the system will become more traumatic.

"Each time they lose a foster home or a casework relationship that they've built up over time it's that much harder for them to think about trusting another adult again."

Roth says many of these services help to prevent disruptions in the foster home in times of trouble.

"If they're encountering difficulties, they need that extra help that prevents the child from running and the foster parent from throwing up their hands in frustration. Those supports are being cut in half."

Mary Krawczyk is the director of clinical and community services at Lutheran Child and Family Services. She says the foster care situation is becoming more and more challenging.

"Finding good, qualified homes continues to be very difficult. Putting a further emotional strain on anyone in the family makes them less likely to foster -- that creates a huge strain statewide."

Although funding reductions have not been fully implemented, providers report they already are feeling the strain of having fewer resources. The governor's office says the cuts were necessary because legislators passed an unbalanced budget.

Mary Kuhlman/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - IL