PLAINFIELD—State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) recently met with two foster parents in his 97th District to listen to their experiences and learn what more can be done to help the seemingly never ending hardships at DCFS.
At the beginning of this year, the Illinois DCFS Inspector General’s report documented the death of 123 children who had contact with DCFS within 12 months of their death. That number represents a more than 25% increase from the previous fiscal year.
“The State of Illinois is failing these children and we must do better,” said Rep. Batinick. “Not enough is being done—and children are dying because of it. That is absolutely horrifying.”
To make more of an immediate impact back home in his community, Batinick donated the pay increase that was granted to lawmakers last spring to two families, who actively foster children in the community.
Rose of Sharon Devos and her husband have been fostering children for 14 years, and have adopted 5 children out of the 11 that they have fostered. According to DeVos, the foster care system in Illinois is as complex as the children it serves. However, with persistence and patience, anyone who has a heart for children from hard places can learn to navigate its challenges and make a difference. Despite those difficulties, Devos has successfully navigated the foster care system and has made an effort to mentor others in the Oswego area who want to become foster parents.
“We could have never made it this long as foster parents without the support of our church, family, and friends,” said Devos. “When we needed it most, a friend let me express my frustration, strangers brought us gifts, a family made my 12-year-old feel like a million dollars, or someone gave my child a needed ride. Every kind word and action mattered. Because our work and tears have been hidden, it was especially moving to hear Representative Mark Batinick say “thank you” and make such a generous donation. We had a spring in our step after meeting with him!”
Another family in Batinick’s 97th District, Dan and Amy Daly, have fostered 8 children since 2015 through Safe Families for Children. The non-profit organization serves as a resource to help parents in crisis. They provide a host family to take temporary guardianship of a child while the organization provides resources to help a parent get back on their feet. Safe Families helps those in need in many different ways but in some instances it can serve as a final step for those at risk of losing their child to DCFS.
“We rely on friends, family, our church and our schools to help support us,” said Dan Daly. “We find many people who are looking to help but are not sure how. It is amazing how people are willing to step up whenever we have hosted. Amy and I are very thankful for Mark donating a portion of his salary to help support what we do.”
Rep. Batinick admires these families for making a difference in both these children’s lives and inspiring the larger community to do more. “By redirecting the extra funds I was granted, but did not vote for, to families in my district who are doing great things, I hope this will have a meaningful impact. The foster care system is in need of good people like the Devos and Daly families—they are a bright light in our community and I hope they will continue to inspire others.”
Representative Batinick has been a vocal advocate of change for the DCFS system and will return to Springfield next week to resume legislative session in the House of Representatives, where he will continue to support legislative efforts to improve Illinois’ child care system.