WEST CHICAGO, Ill. – A credit to the freshman legislator’s experience as a direct service provider and advocate for Illinois’ most vulnerable children, state Rep. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, was recently appointed to the Task Force on Strengthening the Child Welfare Workforce for Children and Families.
“I’m thrilled to have a seat at the table on the Task Force on Strengthening the Child Welfare Workforce for Children and Families to develop policies that will improve the lives of the kids I have dedicated my career to serving,” said Villa. “Over the years I spent as a school social worker, many of the students I worked with most closely came from families receiving child welfare services. I saw first-hand how the overwhelming workload and high turnover of caseworkers impacted the wellbeing of these children.”
The bipartisan task force, composed of members of the General Assembly, representatives from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and employees from both public and private sector child welfare agencies, will analyze how the rate of pay and work loads of child welfare workers across the state impact the ability of employers to recruit and retain quality staff. Created in light of the startling discovery that the turnover rate for private agencies, which take on the majority of cases referred to DCFS, had reached 42 percent annually, the task force is expected to release a final report with policy recommendations and legislative proposals by Jan. 1, 2020.
“With an average starting salary of less than $30,000 for positions requiring an undergraduate degree, this job truly is a labor of love,” Villa said. “Unfortunately, these overworked and underpaid individuals often face burnout early in their careers. By bringing together elected officials, government agencies and the caseworkers serving on the frontline, it’s my hope that the recommendations formed by this task force will allow us to better serve children in care by improving the quality of life for child welfare workers.”