ADOPTION & FAMILY SUPPORTIVE SERVICES

BUREAU OF ADMINISTRATION

Margaret LaRaviere, Director

312.603.0550

Margaret.Laraviere@CookCountyil.gov

Mission

To serve the welfare of children and families involved in adoption, guardianship,dissolution of marriage and parentage cases by conducting home-based social investigations that aid courts and families in decision making, support the reduction of family conflict, as well as assist with the final determination of independent adoptions.

Mandates

In accordance to Illinois Statute (750 ILCS), the court mayorder an investigation and report concerning parenting time and an allocationof parental responsibility (education health decisions, extracurricularactivities and religion). In accordance with Illinois Adoption Statute (750ILCS 50) the court shall appoint an agency to investigate the allegationscontained in the adoption petition filed.

Key Activities and Services

  • Conducts parental responsibility home-based social investigation that includes observing the home and family environment, interviewing relevant parties, securing criminal and DCFS background checks and creating a final report submitted to the court.
  • Seeks out providers to conduct home studies outside of Cook County at the request of the Court, which includes researching providers, facilitating provider and parent contact and submitting final report to the Court.
  • Provides adoption home based social investigation, which includes reviewing and collecting relevant documents, state and FBI criminal and DCFS background check, multiple home visits and a final report submitted to the court.
  • Provides post adoption search assistance as defined by state law. which includes an adoption file search and limited disclosure of information compiled into a responding report for requests for information from relevant individuals and agencies.

Discussion of 2017 Department and Program Outcomes 

During FY 2017 DAFSS worked to strengthen working relationships with relevant parties within the court system including Judges, court staff and attorneys for parents and children. The focus during these interactions were to increase efficiency in court assignments and receipt of reports, make courts aware of our process and procedures in completing home study investigations and discuss caseworker challenges in the field and safety measures put into place that may impact home study procedures and reports.

Overall DAFSS 2017 highlights include the following:

  • Working in partnership with Bureau of Technology on Adoption Scanning project that will (a) support increased efficiency and timeliness in response to public inquires for post adoption services; (b) eliminate travel time and costs related to warehouse for file retrieval and (c) ensure the preservation of confidential adoption files.
  • Participating in an informal focus group with Domestic Relations and other relevant parties to increase awareness and provide a better understanding of services provided. DAFSS is collaborating with Domestic Relations in generating a descriptive document of services.
  • Presenting to 20 judges in domestic relations about DAFSS operations regarding office capacity and explaining office process and procedure. We received positive comments including the disclosure that the home studies help to settle court disputes. We will follow up with a client satisfaction survey.
  • Working with BOT and the Clerk’s Office for possible automatic receipt of court order office appointments, which would support efficiency and case assignment and completion of reports.

In FY 2017, the office conducted a cost analysis of adoption agencies that provide similar home study services and submitted a request to change of ordinance for price correction of adoption home study fees based on the results of the analysis. We hope to have corrective pricing in place for FY 2018.

In FY 2016, the office completed and submitted 446 home study reports to the court and completed 1,969 interviews. For FY 2017 the office is on track to serve between 450 and 500 families as well as to interview over 1,800 individuals.

In FY 2017, we researched and established a new outcome performance measure of Closure Clearance Rate for Parental Responsibility (child custody) cases. The new measure captures the number of assigned caseworker cases closed by number of new open cases received. This indicator of caseworker’s performance captures work efficiency and caseload management. The last three years we consistently show high rate of closures at 121%, 104% and 98% for 2014, 2015 and 2016. We hope to increase rate of closures and decrease high caseloads with increased efficiencies between DAFSS and the courts through a better understanding of services provided and the elimination of redundancy of appointments. While the previous FY 2017 caseload target of 18 per caseworker is relatively consistent with industry standards, we will increase the FY 2018 caseload target to 25 in keeping with the actual number of court orders receive.

Budget, Cost Analysis and 2018 Strategic Initiatives and Goals

The key cost drivers include personnel costs as well as expenses related to conducting the social investigations (transportation, supplies and case management). Staffing costs serve as a primary budgetary impact for the Department. Notably, the major non-personnel expense has been transportation costs which are on a steady decline from its height of $17,000 in FY 2016 to its projected cost of $12,000 for FY 2018. Strategies such as strict enforcement of Cook County transportation policy and increased use of shared fleet support cost reductions in transportation expenditures. Remaining key FY 2018 expenditures include communications services; electronic case management and office supplies. The current funding allocations advance goals of efficiency in completing home based social investigations and submitting quality reports to the Courts.

FY 2018 initiatives:

  • Adoption Scanning Initiative with a goal to have a new case management program that will allow for faster response to adoption inquiries by agencies and residents searching for birth parent information.
  • Domestic Relations/Probate Judicial Survey Initiative with a goal to submit to approximately 50 Judges that use our services.
  • Adoption Home Study Cost Corrections with a goal of implementing new price schedule for FY 2018 for Cook County residents seeking adoption home studies.

Budget and Full Time Employee Data