Recommendations for DCFS

This is an excerpt from Char Rivette’s testimony to the Illinois Human Services Committee regarding the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. More information from Chicago Tribune

We would like to see DCFS review its policies to ensure that all required cases are referred to the local Children’s Advocacy Center and increase training of hotline workers and investigators to make sure they are aware of the types of cases that should be referred to CACs.

We recommend developing a check and balance system to review hotline calls to identify potentially missed referrals to CACs while simultaneously identifying patterns that may allow for additional training and improvement in DCFS procedures.
We recommend a pilot program in which a selected CAC reviews all DCFS hotline calls in its jurisdiction. In Texas, a statewide pilot that allows CACs to review hotline intake reports and facilitate CAC referrals for qualifying cases resulted in CACs serving 9,000 more children in 2016 than in 2014, when the first pilot was launched. This was not a result of more kids entering into the system. Rather, it was the result of cases that qualified for a CAC investigation being properly referred.

We also recommend that a workgroup or oversight committee be established to review hotline calls and identify opportunities for increased involvement by CACs.

Finally, we’d advise strengthening the training that mandated reporters receive. Rather than moving toward a requirement that all adults become mandated reporters, we advocate for increased training for existing mandated reporters to ensure that they have the tools to know what to look for and understand their responsibility to report any and all suspicions of child abuse. Training should be mandatory with periodic refreshers. As part of this, we recommend that training be added as a required component when mandated reporters apply for professional license renewal with the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation.

Further, it is our belief that universal mandated reporting would not necessarily keep children safer. Recent research has found that, compared to states requiring specific professionals to be mandated reporters, states with universal mandated reporting laws do not have significantly higher rates of reports or report dispositions.

We believe that allocating resources to increase awareness and training for professionals regarding mandated reporting would have the most significant impact on ensuring that children at risk of abuse are protected.

The goal of all of us here today is to keep kids safe. Children’s Advocacy Centers are proud to serve on the front lines with DCFS to protect the children of Illinois, and we look forward to working together to improve our capabilities. Thank you.