032114 js 0193CLF 2RSPRINGFIELD – At a budget hearing this morning, Illinois’ state agencies painted a bleak picture of state government’s future next year. The state is expecting a multi-billion dollar drop in revenue, resulting in across-the-board budget cuts of nearly 20%.

The Department of Children and Family Services, which stands to lose nearly $140 million, will need to eliminate housing, counseling, education and health programs for nearly 3,500 children.

“There are unfortunately thousands of abused and neglected children in our state. Cutting the funds to protect them will only put them back in harm’s way,” said State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), who serves on one of the Senate budget committees and who chairs the Human Services Subcommittee on Special Issues Relating to DCFS. “The Department of Children and Family Services barely has the resources it needs to do its job now.”

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032014 js 0050CLRRSPRINGFIELD – In an effort to make Illinois’ local governments more accountable, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) is sponsoring legislation that would enable county boards to remove appointed officials who violate the public trust.

“If an appointed member of the Metra Board or any other important local board or commission can’t meet ethical standards, there needs to be a way to remove that person,” Morrison said.

Morrison’s legislation, introduced at the request of Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor, allows the county boards of the collar counties to remove appointed officials by a 2/3rds majority vote. To initiate the process, the county board or county executive would have to find that the appointed official violated the county’s code of conduct, and the county board would have to hold a hearing.

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) won another victory in her campaign to make the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services more effective and accountable when her proposal to strengthen the department’s safety plans cleared the Senate Human Services Committee.

DCFS implements “safety plans” when its investigators determine that allegations of abuse or neglect are serious, but do not yet warrant that the child or children must be put into protective custody or foster care. The requirements of these plans vary, but they can involve moving the child to the home of a relative like a grandparent or aunt, requiring one or more members of the household to temporarily leave the home, or requiring another family member to temporarily move in and supervise contact.

“DCFS’ safety plans are a key part of the agency’s mission to keep children out of harm’s way,” Morrison said. “They need to be documented and well thought out, and we need to be certain that all of the adults involved know exactly what is expected of them.”

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SPRINGFIELD – Last year, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) launched a special committee to look into Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services. She was concerned about reports of rising death rates, several high-profile cases of potentially preventable deaths and many anecdotal stories about the agency not performing as well as it should. Now, after a series of hearings, Morrison is proposing reforms to help DCFS improve its success rate.

“One of the most important roles our government plays is defending people who can’t defend themselves,” Morrison said. “We must do everything in our power to prevent child abuse and neglect.”

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