Safety and Wellbeing: An Interdisciplinary Collaboration for
Older Caregivers and the Children for whom They Care for
from the Child Welfare System of Illinois
Office of the Inspector General/
Illinois Department of Children and
Family Services
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
Trainer Information
Barbara Sittler LCSW; M. Div.
Office of the Inspector General:
Michelle Grove LCPC
Division of Clinical Practice and Development:
Illinois Department of Children and Family
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
• Gain an overview of the populations both departments
support and the history of involvement with older caregiver
• Learn about the new collaboration between IDoA and he
Aging Network and DCFS through the Inter Governmental
Agreement (IGA)
• Discover Resources from Aging and Child Welfare that can
support Older Caregiver Families
Intended Result of the Collaboration
• Better and more coordinated work between
• Safer, healthier and more positive outcomes
for children and their older caregivers
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
DCFS Older Caregiver Definition
• Caregiver is 65 or older
• Relative or Non-relative child welfare
• Older Adult is the Primary Caregiver of the
Is this normal?
Grandparents raising Grandchildren:
• Adam and Eve
• Pres. John and Abigail Adams
• Pres. George and Martha Washington
Raised by grandparents:
Jamie Foxx
Samuel L. Jackson
Carol Burnett
Maya Angelou
Tipper Gore
Justice Clarence
• Jerry Lewis
• Willie Nelson
• LL Cool J
• Barak Obama
(after age 13)
• Richard Pryor
• Sir Isaac Newton
• Lou Rawls
• Pierce Brosnan
• Eric Clapton
• Bobby Darin
Oprah Winfrey
Lucille Ball
Aretha Franklin
Ella Fitzgerald
Jack Nicholson
Older Relative Caregivers in Illinois
100,000 grandparents are raising their grandchildren
110,000 children are being raised by grandparents
68% of the grandparents are under 60
32% of the grandparents are over 60
20% live in poverty
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
Illinois Placements as of 5-31-14
• Total Older Caregivers aged 65+: 2,769
Home of
Total Children: 4,281
What are the Reasons?
Abuse or Neglect
Substance Abuse
Mental Illness
Domestic Violence
Poverty - Economy
What are some feelings?
 Grief
 Love
 Sense of purpose
 Gratitude
We’ve been here before haven’t
• DCFS and IDoA have been partnering for years
• We have co-trained staff
• We have collaborated on case questions and
service provision
• But we never tied the knot!
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
In 2013 we began a new collaboration developed by a
workgroup consisting of:
• DCFS Office of the Inspector General
• Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA)
• DCFS Divisions of: Clinical, Policy, Permanency,
Advocacy, Child Protection, Monitoring, State Central
Register (Hotline), Administrative Case Review, and
IDoA/DCFS con’t.
• Commitment to work together from both IDoA and
• Inter Governmental Agreement between IDoA and
DCFS allowing case collaboration beginning Summer
• New DCFS Policy and Procedure also beginning
Summer 2014
What the IGA enables
– Contact IDoA for assessments and services
– Participate in staffings with IDoA
– Report abuse and neglect to APS
– Provide services and assessments as appropriate upon
– Participate in staffings with DCFS
– Report abuse and neglect to SCR/DCFS
How will we follow up to make sure this
collaboration works?
• Webinar to IDoA providers held in June 2014
• Presentation at today’s APS conference
• Face-to-Face trainings with staff from Aging
and Child Welfare beginning fall 2014
• Joint IDoA/DCFS Workgroup follow up
quarterly beginning September 2014
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
Life-Span Approach
Change is common with older adults.
Placements affect children and caregivers.
Life-Span approach pairs the developmental stage of
the child and what they can and cannot do, - withThe on-going capability of the older caregiver to
meets those needs until the child reaches age 18
Case example
Older non relative Foster Parent
Child was in 7 previous foster care placements
The child goal was adoption
Foster parent had macular degeneration
Child experienced trauma related to earlier abuse and neglect
Child’s behavior created a risky environment for the older caregiver
requiring a change in placement
• Outcome uncertain and detrimental to both child and caregiver
Goals for Older Caregiver Families
• Address both aging and child welfare issues.
• Ensure the permanency of the child’s
placement now and in the future including
Back up planning.
• Maximize the safety of children and
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
DCFS procedure and how it impacts you!
• Within the first 40 days of placement by DCFS the child’s
situation is assessed
• Additional assessment questions are asked when the
placement is with an older caregiver
• These may generate recommendations for referral to IDoA
Senior HelpLine for additional supports for, or assessment of,
the older caregiver including issues related to their safety
• These recommendations are reviewed by DCFS every 6
What we asking for from the Aging Network
• Referrals to the GRG programs and services
• Linkage to available supports through the Caregiver
Support Programs
• Collaboration on cases that span issues involving
both children and older caregivers
• Comprehensive Needs Assessment to explore
caregiver capacity
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
Examples of how the Aging Network
can help
Grandparents and other relatives raising
children program
Legal Assistance for back up planning and wills
Respite care
Support Groups
Education about child issues
Gap filling funds
How DCFS can help
• During placement DCFS can collaborate with IDoA/APS
regarding services and supports available for the child
• Once Permanency is achieved DCFS can facilitate a referral to
Adoption Preservation and other service providers
• For non DCFS relative caregiver families with unmet needs
that risk the on-going stability of the family →
• →Extended Family Support Program
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
Extended Family Support Program
Caregiver is a relative of the child and is age 18 or older
The child has been in the relative home for two weeks
There are no abuse or neglect issues with the child
There is no active DCFS involvement with the family
The caregiver is struggling to meet the needs of the child
Short-term Services provided
• Crisis Intervention
• Guardianship obtained through Probate Court
• Assistance in gaining benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps,
SSI benefits, “Child Only” grants, day care subsidy (for working
• Educational Advocacy
• Linkage to community based services
• Emergency Cash Assistance
How to refer for EFSP
• A checklist of questions has been prepared for Aging
Network staff
• The worker - with the consent and participation of
older caregiver calls the DCFS Hotline
• After ruling out abuse or neglect of the child a
referral is made to the EFSP provider for direct
follow up
• Cases are served and closed within 3 months
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
Older Caregiver Project
The Older Caregiver
Project (Cook only)
Resources for Older Caregiver Families
• Helpful Guide for Parents and Caregivers CFS
• Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Brochure
CFS 1050-86
• Resource links on IDoA and DCFS websites
• Generations United:
© DCFS Office of Professional Development
 Learning about and serving separate populations, diverse
needs (children, older caregivers)
 Complexity of Departmental involvements
 Establishing procedures and relationships across
 Developing the appropriate plan and services required by
the family
 Encountering a variety of situations
 Knowing when to act

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