Illinois budget cuts strain foster care, child abuse services

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by KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on September 7, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Updated Saturday, Sep 8 at 11:09 PM

(KMOV.com) -- Budget cuts in Illinois could mean more children in foster care, according to social services officials.

The Illinois General Assembly passed a budget this year that cuts the Department of Children and Family Services by $50 million, and lays off 375 DCFS employees.

The state could not drop mandated programs like foster care, but the new budget nearly eliminates a child abuse prevention program.

Gary Huelsmann, executive director of Christian Social Services, says foster care can be a life-saving intervention, but it's a last resort. Huelsman said the Belleville-based organization supervises more southern Illinois children in foster care than the state itself.

"We haven't had a cost of doing business increase in 10 years, and that makes it increasingly difficult for agencies like ours to keep up with the demands," said Huelsmann.

Huelsmann said less funding could mean an increase in child abuse and a greater need for services.

Gov. Quinn was not immediately available for comment.

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