Weber Seeks More Action to Protect DCFS Youth Amid COVID-19 Response as Child Abuse Prevention Month Begins

Today, the first day of Child Abuse Prevention Month, State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) sent a letter to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and the heads of the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to address health and safety issues for at-risk youth affected by the response to COVID-19. Weber again called on the Governor to delay the transition of Illinois youth in care from Medicaid to Medicaid managed care until next year, as well as requesting increased home safety inspections for at-risk youth who have had previous contact with DCFS.

Weber has previously called on the Governor to delay the youth in care transition to Medicaid managed care, citing serious concerns expressed by child welfare experts about the YouthCare provider network. Earlier in March, Weber even filed House Resolution 830 along with State Representative Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago) serving as the chief co-sponsor to call for the transition to be delayed until next year.

Concerning the managed care transition, in the letter, Weber stated, “Serious concerns existed with the provider network’s ability to meet the specialized care needs for these children before the COVID-19 pandemic and those concerns will undoubtedly be exacerbated by this crisis.”

Regarding the request for increased home safety inspections, Weber noted that experts point to research demonstrating increased incidents of child abuse during times of economic stress. “With school and daycare closures and your recent action to extend these closures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, child welfare and law enforcement experts have expressed serious concerns that incidents of abuse will increase during this stressful period,” Weber’s letter stated. “While I understand the necessity of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we must also take all appropriate action to protect these children.”

Weber acknowledged all necessary steps must be taken to protect the health of caseworkers performing home safety inspections, but at-risk youth who are the state’s responsibility must be a top priority as we navigate the unprecedented circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

A copy of the letter may be downloaded below.