For a department long known for its troubles, where do you start when it comes to addressing issues?
A recent report from the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall tackles that question for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Researchers looked at the agency’s Intact Family Services – a program that aims to keep families together – and listed nine recommendations for improvement.
Those recommendations address structural and procedural issues within the department. One prominent takeaway from the report is a need to change the culture within DCFS, said Jassen Strokosch, director of communications for the agency.
“How we think about our role, particularly around the idea when to remove children from home and when to keep children with their parents,” he said.
The report was completed at the request of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who called for an overhaul of the department following the report’s release.
That overhaul included hiring DCFS Acting Director Marc Smith earlier this year. Smith is the department’s 15th leader since 2003.
“The experts at Chapin Hall provided a strong guide for changing our culture, structure and approach, and we’ll move swiftly on these recommendations,” said Smith in a statement following the report’s release.
Smith joins us in discussion.