Last week we covered – in two parts – how the “system” that failed A. J. Freund wholly consists of us. I posited that, if we put as much effort into the least of our brothers and sisters before they perish as we do after they’re gone, things would change quite quickly.
As a result of those columns, my good friend and ‘What’s Happening In…’ Facebook page owner, Paul Stukel, and I engaged in one of our classic, but civil, debates. Though this time we carried it out in public much to the chagrin of one of the ‘What’s Happening in Elgin’ devotees.
Everyone’s a critic, but I digress!
I still say Paul missed my secondary main point that most conservative Republicans are simply content to be Christians of convenience. They have a knack to choose only the biblical tenets that suit them, and the whole “least of my brothers” stipulation doesn’t seem to slow their Ayn Rand-ian roll one bit.
It’s not that I was “blaming” conservatives for A. J.’s untimely death, as Paul and some folks insisted, it’s that I was encouraging them to be a little less philosophically hypocritical. And trust me, that ain’t setting the bar too high.
But Paul was right (please don’t tell him I said that) when he said the Department of Children and Family Services is a State-run agency, and if those scurrilous (my word) Springfield Democrats really wanted to fix it, they would! All they have to do is apply the appropriate willpower.
Particularly, when you consider our Dem governor and Dem General Assembly supermajority, there’s no excuse for this lack of diligence.
And the first thing those legislators need to do is stop the ridiculous leadership revolving door. To wit, current Director Marc Smith is DCFS’s fourteenth head honcho since 2003. That would kill any business, so how can we possibly expect an agency to execute their mission with that kind of turnover?
Not even the George Steinbrenner era Yankees managerial follies were nearly that bad.
To make matters much worse, Smith, tabbed by Governor J. B. Pritzker himself, ain’t exactly a stellar choice. Prior to taking the DCFS helm, he was an executive vice president at Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness, which may well be the worst social service agency in Illinois.
In fact, They’re so bad, they make DCFS look good. Just ask any Aurora Police Officer how many times they’ve had to show up at one of their “facilities.”
So, it’s time to bring in an outside-of-Illinois non-social worker as DCFS director. We need someone who’s willing to kick ass and take names. You’d think after 13 disastrous director attempts in 16 years, Pritzker would try something different.
What’s the definition of insanity again?
And whenever you create that kind of leadership vacuum, the inmates immediately commence to running the asylum, which makes it even more difficult for the next director to right the ship, so they quit or get fired out of further frustration. It’s the kind of self-perpetuating feedback loop that only gets worse with age.
Again, it’s gonna take some ass-kicking and name taking for DCFS to move forward.
And lastly, as my sainted mother use to say, “You get what you pay for!” DCFS directors make $150,000 a year while the overburdened on-the-street caseworkers make less than 30 grand.
Who, in their bleepin’ right mind is going to take either one of those gigs? That salary needs to be doubled to attract a decent director and what quality of caseworkers do you expect to get for what doesn’t amount to a living wage?
I understand money is just one of their slew of problems and it’s no panacea, but if we want to make DCFS work, the agency can’t continue to be a tertiary budget thought, either.
When you add all those problems up and throw in a few rounds of regular Illinois budget cuts for good measure, you get chronic staff shortages that make it impossible for existing caseworkers to do their jobs. All they can do is stick their fingers in the dike and pray for no rain.
Since these determining these solutions doesn’t require a degree in theoretical physics, it begs the question, where are all those local General Assembly Democrats I’ve come to know and somewhat love?
Apparently, State Senator Cristina Castro has been watching too many ‘Game of Thrones’ episodes because she’s far too busy trying to become queen of Elgin to accomplish anything else. From what I’ve heard, her generally imperious tendencies have not gone over well with her Springfield peers, which makes it difficult to get anything done.
Aurora State Senator Linda Holmes? I like her personally, but even if you offered me a six-figure prize, I couldn’t name a single one of her accomplishments. The same goes for Hoffman Estates State Rep Fred Crespo.
West Chicago State Rep Karina Villa is too new to have had much impact, but she doesn’t inspire confidence, either. She’ll be one and done. The same thing goes for Aurora State Rep Barbara Hernandez who’s never had an original thought in her life. Her claim to fame is sitting silently as she smirks at her peers.
Montgomery State Rep Stephanie Kifowit may not play well with others, but she does have a consistent moral center and she manages to get some things done. My fondest wish is for her to apply that talent towards taking on the errant DCFS culture.
But the biggest disappointment is Elgin State Rep Anna Moeller, who had great promise, but now seems to be content with simply taking up Springfield space. It’s always amazing to watch formerly good legislators become downright bitter and develop a massive entitlement mentality as a result.
That said, if Ms. Moeller and Ms. Kifowit ever got together on this, DCFS would have to change. Don’t worry! I’m not about to start holding my breath.
So, no more excuses Illinois Democrats! You have the power to unilaterally fix the Department of Children and Family services, so do it! Because while I would certainly hate to have to explain myself to God as a conservative Republican, can you imagine what She’s gonna do when finally faced with the folks who could’ve changed DCFS, but chose not to?