The Normal-based Baby Fold is cheering the governor’s proposed $147 million budget increase for the Department of Children and Family Services.
The Baby Fold’s DCFS-involved programs rely heavily on state funding, including foster care, intact family services, and adoption support and preservation. The 7.9% budget increase for DCFS, if it passes the General Assembly, would impact The Baby Fold “very positively,” said Vice President of Development and Public Relations Aimee Beam.
“I was encouraged that he even recognized it, and it’s risen to the top of the discussion ladder. That made me happy he even thought of that,” Beam said.
Beam said foster families are not being fairly compensated for the service they provide Illinois children. Some of the hardest-to-place children require the highest level of care, she said, such as those with autism or other physical or mental health concerns.
“To ask them to open their home and change their lives around to care for these kids, without being compensated for it, it really reduces the number of people we have to help these children,” Beam said. “So the fact they thought about that too, and are willing to give a cost-of-living increase for these types of expenses to our foster families, was something I was really excited about. We need to make sure these kids have good homes, and it’ll help us do that.”
Beam said she considers herself a fiscal conservative. She said she too has “some reservations for how it could all be possibly funded.”
But Beam said not investing in kids comes at a cost too—longer-term impacts on law enforcement, health care systems, and the future workforce.
“I have seen and had a front-row seat to the costs associated with not doing it. So over the last few years I’ve really changed my tune on what I think we should prioritize,” Beam said. “It’s so expensive when these kids don’t get good care.”
Pritzker's budget would also hire more DCFS employees to reduce caseworker workloads and boost hotline staffing, among other initiatives.
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