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“How in 2019 Do We Not Have Enough Spanish-Speaking Caseworkers?”

Lawmakers respond to DCFS’s repeated violations of a court order to provide Spanish-speaking services to Spanish-speaking families.

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Last month, my colleagues Melissa Sanchez and Duaa Eldeib published an investigation that wove together the stories of three Spanish-speaking families in Illinois to show how the state’s child welfare agency has for decades repeatedly failed to provide services to Latino families in their primary language.

Illinois lawmakers are paying attention. This week, we published a follow-up story highlighting some of what they want the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to do in light of the story, as well as the agency’s plans to address the problems. Those plans include trying to hire 100 more bilingual caseworkers and investigators (our reporters note that this is a “would like to” and not a “promise”). Read the update here.

Here’s what lawmakers are saying:

“The details uncovered by these reports are heartbreaking, plain and simple. No child should ever be deprived of the opportunity to communicate with their parents as a result of actions by a government agency that claims to be their advocate, and it’s clear that DCFS must do better before even more children who’ve done nothing wrong are harmed.”

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat

“How in 2019 do we not have enough Spanish-speaking caseworkers? If it was Mandarin, I’d say that is tough. But there is no excuse for this.”

— State Sen. Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat

“In the cases of undocumented families, like the father in this particular article, many are fearful and reluctant to interact with DCFS as they worry about the possibility of having their citizenship status recognized and flagged for deportation. I know that you agree that this approach does not reflect the goals and values of our state. Diverse families struggling to stay together should have access to culturally relevant case management.”

— State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a Chicago Democrat, in a July 15 letter to DCFS acting Director Marc Smith

“As Trump continues to threaten, deport and detain thousands of people across the country, we know we’ll see some impact in the state of Illinois. I want to make sure the agency is prepared to provide support to the children whose parents get detained or whose parents for one reason or another are not available.”*

— State Rep. Delia Ramirez, a Chicago Democrat

In Chicago Tickets News

Hate Getting Parking Tickets in Chicago? Here’s How You Can Start Change-Making Conversations About the City’s Ticketing System.

⬆️ We’ve created an event toolkit! It’s designed to help communities start or continue conversations about how Chicago’s parking and vehicle ticketing system drives motorists into debt and jeopardizes livelihoods. We hope you’ll use it. If you have questions, comments, etc., let us know.

Lightfoot pleads for patience in weaning city off ‘addiction’ to punishing those who can least afford it — Chicago Sun-Times

In Illinois Gambling News

Lightfoot names five sites, all on South and West sides, as possible casino locations — Chicago Tribune

Hard Rock would be the ‘best partner’ for a Rockford casino, Cheap Trick guitarist says — Rockford Register Star

Bloomington leaders create working group to decide the future of video gambling in the city — WMBD News

In Other Illinois News

Chicago Aldermen Encourage City Workers To Spot ICE Agents — WBEZ Chicago

Firearms dealers, state rifle association challenge new Illinois gun licensing law — Capitol News Illinois, via The Southern Illinoisan

Facing donor backlash, Goodwill reverses decision to cancel paychecks for workers with disabilities — WCIA Springfield

Illinois puts ankle monitors on thousands. Now it has to figure out who gets tracked—and why — The Marshall Project

Inside the Ambitious Campaign to Push Chicago Homicides Below 400 — The Trace

Until next week …

Logan Jaffe,

Engagement reporter

P.S. As we mourn the departure of celebrity-status alligator Chance the Snapper, who’s headed to Florida after being captured in a Chicago lagoon this week, let’s not forget that Illinois was and might still be home to a 22-pound female alligator snapping turtle. Yes, you read that right.

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