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DCFS bringing a push to expand its workforce to central Illinois event

The Department of Children and Family Services building is pictured in Springfield.
Capitol News Illinois File Photo
The Department of Children and Family Services building is pictured in Springfield.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is making a major push to expand its workforce.

Stephanie Ward, a DCFS employment recruiter, says the agency’s staffing level is already the highest it’s been in more than 15 years.

“We have over 3,400 employees currently. But we're constantly seeking new employees to work in the central Illinois area in addition to statewide in Illinois,” Ward said. “There will always be a need for investigators and caseworkers and support staff, so we're always looking for new employees.”

Part of the effort includes an employment workshop Wednesday afternoon at Career Link in Canton.

“I’ll be presenting on how to get jobs with the State of Illinois, how to apply for the job, how to search for jobs,” Ward said. “I'll talk a little bit about the interview process, and cover benefits of working for State of Illinois government agencies like DCFS.”

While the 1:30 p.m. workshop isn’t an on-site hiring event, people can submit résumés and start the application process. Ward says they’re seeking more employees to help support the current staff.

“We're always looking for additional child protection specialists and child welfare specialists to help lessen the caseload that current investigators are carrying,” she said.

After facing claims of inadequate and underfunded services dating back decades, DCFS has an increased budget of just over $2 billion for 2024.

Gov. JB Pritzker has authorized the push for more staff, as Heidi Mueller prepares to take over for Marc Smith as the new DCFS director on Feb. 1.

Ward acknowledged the nature of DCFS work can be difficult at times.

“It is challenging work, but it's also rewarding work,” Ward said. “A majority of the staff that works for DCFS are passionate about what they do. They care about what they do; they want to help children and families. The staff are always trying to help each other out and do what they can to make this agency a little bit easier on the case workers and investigators.”

Ward says DCFS is looking to fill a variety of staff positions in central Illinois.

“We are seeking office associates. These are entry level clerical positions, where they answer phones and do filing,” Ward said. “We're also looking for child protection specialists; these are frontline employees. They work directly with children and families and conduct child abuse and neglect investigations.

“Then also child welfare specialists. Child welfare specialists are foster care case managers and caseworkers, so they work with children and families to try to help them reunify.”

In addition to the frontline specialists and investigators and clerical staff, DCFS has openings for paralegal assistants, public service administrators, daycare licensing representatives, and reimbursement officers. All positions require a bachelor's or master’s degree.

Ward said the hiring process can take as long as 2-4 months to complete. She says they offer training courses and benefits packages aimed at improving employee retention.

The two-hour hiring workshop in Canton follows an earlier event scheduled at 10 a.m. in Ottawa.

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.