How you can help stop the trafficking of children in Illinois. The human trafficking of children for sex in Illinois happens in every small town and big city throughout the state. In 2016, DCFS investigated 143 calls to the hotline for allegations of Human Trafficking. Many of the reports involved children being victimized within blocks of where they live.
Trafficking is not just an issue that happens to people in other countries. The United States is a source and transit country, and is also considered one of the top destination points for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. States; anyone can be trafficked regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship when forcefully coerced or enticed by false promises (source: unicefusa.org). It’s important to remember that anyone under the age of 18 involved in this crime is a victim.
The public can help us stop this crime by knowing the signs and by reporting it. What are some potential indicators of trafficking a child? The child may:
If you suspect or know a child is a victim of human trafficking, call 911 and the DCFS Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 1-800-25-ABUSE.
DCFS receives, investigates and acts upon a report of child abuse or neglect every five minutes. Tens of thousands of children are safer thanks to those who call our Child Abuse hotline, 1-800-25-ABUSE (252-2873) each year. Working together, we can ensure a safe, loving home and brighter future for every child.
Expiration of “stopgap” budget increases fiscal pressure on many recipients of State funds. Community colleges and universities are especially affected by the January 1, 2017 expiration of the “stopgap” FY17 spending plan, which partially covered some State spending programs for the six months in late 2016. Other State spending programs are moving forward based upon court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations.
State spending on higher education could be hard-hit by the expiration of the “stopgap” budget. Money has not yet been set aside for State aid to colleges and universities for the second half of FY17, the six-month period from January 1 through June 30 of 2017. The cut in general-funds State aid to higher education is especially significant for the State’s teaching universities, four-year institutions such as Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in downstate Charleston that specialize in non-research activities. While research universities often can supplement their budgets through research grants, gifts, and endowment proceeds, the budget of teaching universities are oriented toward State aid payments and tuition payments. As one response to the overall Illinois budget crunch, EIU has laid off 400 faculty and staff members over the past fiscal year. EIU’s plight was covered by NPR Illinois on Thursday, January 5.
COGFA report continues dismal State revenue picture. The report by the Illinois General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget office covers State revenues for December 2016. Although 2016’s final month contained most of the yearend shopping season, State revenues once again fell significantly short of the State’s cash outflows and spending commitments. Net Illinois general funds revenues submitted to the State in December 2016 totaled $2,581 million, down $257 million from the $2,838 million received from the same sources in December 2015 twelve months earlier. These revenues continued to fall far short of the numbers required to maintain the long-term operations of the State.
Areas of especially weak revenues included the personal income tax (down $93 million from December 2015) and the corporate income tax (down $88 million). The December 2016 report marked a continuation and intensification of trends already in place during the full six-month period that marked the second half of calendar year 2016. During this six-month period, total Illinois general funds revenues have dropped by $990 million on a year-over-year basis. This decline was paced by reductions in State individual income tax receipts (down $189 million), State corporate income tax receipts (down $386 million), and transfers from U.S. federal sources (down $290 million).
In a commentary accompanying the report, COGFA staff pointed to the State’s current poor job-creation performance, and noted that the declining pace of receipts from income taxes withheld from employee paychecks are starting to make the Illinois revenue picture look like the picture seen in a nationwide economic recession.
State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) was appointed to the post of House Republican Conference Chairman today, a nearly unprecedented recognition for a freshman lawmaker just completing their first term in the Illinois General Assembly. Wheeler, a 25-year small business owner and sixth generation Kendall County resident, was first elected in 2014 and reelected in November 2016 to represent the 50th District, which includes portions of Kane and Kendall Counties.
Rep. Wheeler’s appointment was announced by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin on Tuesday. “Keith Wheeler has made a significant impact on the Illinois House of Representatives in just two short years,” Leader Durkin said. “In addition to being a vocal and effective advocate for his constituents, Rep. Wheeler has been a leader in our caucus on issues important to Illinois’ small business community and reforming the state budget. He has earned this opportunity to play a larger role in shaping policy moving forward as we work together to make Illinois a place where everyone can be proud to live, work and raise a family once again.”
Rep. Wheeler is a former Board Chairman of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce and a past Illinois Leadership Council Chairman of the National Federation of Independent Business. As a freshman member of the Illinois House of Representatives, Rep. Wheeler passed legislation in 2015 requiring all state agencies to review rules and regulations on small business in order to identify those that can be streamlined or eliminated; as well as serving as a key voice in support of workers compensation reform and responsible budgeting.
“I am truly honored to accept the appointment as Republican Conference Chairman,” Rep. Wheeler said. “This role will enable me to be an even more effective voice for Fox Valley families as we work to create Illinois jobs for Illinois families and make much-needed reforms to state government. I am grateful to my constituents and my colleagues for the confidence and trust they have placed in me. We have a lot of important work to do in the coming weeks and months to restore stability to the state budget as well as bring opportunity and growth back our economy.”
Rep. Wheeler lives in Oswego with his wife, Lisa, and their three children.
Department of Human Services (IDHS) director responds to reports. In the wake of an investigative-report series published by the Chicago Tribune that uncovered serious problems in some Illinois group homes for the developmentally disabled (DD) population, the General Assembly convened a joint committee to hold a hearing on the issue. More than 1,300 cases of abuse and neglect were uncovered by the series of news stories. Meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13, the committee heard from agency Director James Dimas, who described work being done by him and his top aides to understand the size of the scandal and improve enforcement of living conditions in Illinois DD group homes.
IDHS is required, under law, to supervise 3,000 licensed private-sector DD group homes throughout Illinois. These homes shelter approximately 12,000 persons with intellectual and developmental challenges, often in an extended-family setting. The treatment provided to persons in this category ranges from thoughtful, high-quality care to abuse and neglect. In some cases, DD group home caregivers are overwhelmed by the challenges of taking care of persons with two or more separately diagnosed disabilities.
A major finding by the Tribune was that many of the cases of abuse and neglect that had taken place since July 2011 had been flagged in some way or another by IDHS oversight, but that many of the investigative files on these cases had been hidden, concealed, or even legally sealed. A key pledge made by Director Dimas this week was that the Department will create a new infrastructure of electronic transparency to increase access to information on the standing of each group home. The transparency infrastructure will include an Internet-based public report card to detail the status of many State investigations based upon allegations of abuse and neglect. The report cards will include evaluations of many Illinois DD group homes. In another pledge, Director Dimas stated that Illinois group homes for adults with disabilities will face stricter standards for establishing and maintaining licensure.
As year-end deadline approaches, talks are suspended. Many facets of state spending are moving towards limbo with the approach of New Year’s Eve. Dec. 31 is the expiration date for the so-called “stopgap budget” that is authorizing much of the State’s spending activities during the final two quarters of calendar year 2016. The “stopgap budget,” which was enacted in summer 2016, was meant to serve as a bridge to cover the first half of the 2017 fiscal year while budget negotiations took place. However, high-level budget talks have been suspended. Governor Bruce Rauner stated on Wednesday, Dec. 14, that based on his face-to-face contacts with leading Democrats, negotiations are not being productive at this time.
Under the complex current Illinois budget situation, not all areas of State spending are tied to the so-called “stopgap budget.” Significant FY17 spending programs, such as Medicaid and pay for state employees, are tied to court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations. Other spending programs are being carried out through Dec. 31 in line with the so-called stopgap budget. Still other areas are not covered by any current appropriation at all, and monies for these programs are not being spent. Many entities that are not receiving needed state funding, such as community colleges and offices that carry out many social programs, are begging for relief.
Leaders meetings do not generate budget agreement. With the “stopgap” six-month budget for the first half of FY17 scheduled to expire on December 31, pressure is being placed on key Illinois officials to develop a budget agreement. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Governor Bruce Rauner, and other leaders were meeting almost daily in Chicago. Key issues include cash flow for State spending areas covered in the “stopgap” budget. Renewed appropriations are required if these areas are to get funding in January 2017 and following months. However, no agreement has yet been reached.
Pressure for a budget deal is being driven by the deteriorating financial condition of the State. The Comptroller’s office indicated that Illinois had, as of Tuesday, December 6, piled up a backlog of unpaid bills totaling more than $10.6 billion. These include both bills that are actually in the Comptroller’s office awaiting payment and bills that are in the various State agencies and have not yet been forwarded to the Comptroller.