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New legislation hopes to improve issues with Illinois DCFS


(WGEM) — When kids are in danger, the department of children and family service, or DCFS, is supposed to be there to step in and keep children safe.

But the state of Illinois is struggling to recruit new workers and even keep the ones they have.

State leaders said children in the system are constantly being reassigned because DCFS offices across the state are struggling to keep long-term employees.

There's new legislation to go before lawmakers as early as Monday that could help prevent that from happening.

Senate Bill 176 could establish additional training for new employees and require quality checks on staff throughout their time with the department.

Senator Julie Morrison of Lake Forest said that if members are more equipped for their job, they might be a better asset for a child's case.

"The Office of Inspector General to basically re-teach and re-train those case workers saying, when you see a bruise on a baby, it is a very strong indicator, for example that this is a problem and you need to recognize it," Morrison said.

The bill could also establish an education stipend program to help Illinois students pursing a bachelor's or master's degree in social work.

Through the program, students could be eligible to receive up to $10,000 each year for up to two years, all compliant on them taking a job within the partnering agencies of DCFS after graduation.

Sen. Morrison said that is a crucial step to the department moving forward.

"We want people to be trained and then stay within the organization instead of constantly draining these agencies of qualified people that they just trained," Morrison said.

She explained the added training could help employees work their case accordingly.

The overall goal of the bill hopes to better train DCFS employees and keep them accountable so that Illinois children can stay safe.

So here's what's next for this bill, The health committee is the first of many stops.

That committee meets Monday and it could appear during that meeting.

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