Friday, July 16, 2010

Agencies to merge by the end of the year

Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn appointed a new director to head up the Department of Juvenile Justice (DOJJ) and oversee an agency merger that he said is coming before the end of the year.

Quinn named Arthur Bishop, who is currently the deputy director of field operations for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), as acting director of DOJJ. Quinn said he wants Bishop to be the “quarterback” leading the merger of the two agencies. Bishop will replace Kurt Friedenauer starting August 1.

As a first step to the eventual merger, Quinn signed legislation earlier this week that allows the Department of Child and Family Services to share resources with DOJJ.

Kendall Marlowe, a DCFS spokesman, said that his agency could help youth offenders by offering services such as placement in a safe environment after they have spent time in a detention facility, mental health treatment or programs to help prepare them for careers or higher education.

Marlowe added that DCFS plans to find ways to collect federal matching dollars for some of the services children in the DOJJ system need. “DCFS had made great progress over the past few years when it comes to claiming federal funds.”

Quinn says kids in both systems often have similar needs because they face similar obstacles, such as abuse addiction and mental health issues.

“The overwhelming majority of young people in detention are struggling with the effects of childhood mistreatment, and they would benefit from a system that understands that trauma often can lead to difficult situations, and we must relieve the trauma,” Quinn said at a Chicago press conference.

Both Bishop and Marlowe said that stakeholders have been in talks for months on the merger. Marlowe said his agency is moving forward under the assumption that it will be a reality before the end of the year.

Bishop said he hopes the merger will help “ensure first of all that there is safety in the community to hold youth accountable.” But also, “do a thorough assessment so that we can determine the needs of those youth so that those that are appropriately ready to be discharged from the [DOJJ] that they will be discharged into a community that’s prepared to receive them, that’s prepared to meet their needs so we can then reduce recidivism.

Quinn announced his newest cuts made with the budgeting powers the General Assembly granted him in the “Emergency Budget Act." Quinn and his nonunion staff will take 24 furlough days this fiscal year. They took 12 unpaid days off last year. The governor made this move after facing criticism over giving his employees pay raises while calling on government agencies and citizens to “share the pain” of the state’s fiscal crisis. Quinn said the furlough days are equivalent to about a 9 percent pay cut.

Quinn added that he has cut his budget more than any other executive agency and some of his staff has taken on new responsibilities.

Quinn also said that more cuts are in the works and the budget will be fluid throughout the fiscal year. “This budget year we are going to have constant review. It’s not a one-day document. It’s going to be day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month throughout this fiscal year. There will be administrative orders regularly in order to mange our state through a very difficult time.”

No comments: