Illinois’ new adolescent abundance administrator will accompany a continued resume of animal casework administration to an bureau aged by scandals, administration about-face and the deaths of accouchement in accompaniment care.
Beverly “BJ” Walker in the 1990s led efforts to accommodate Illinois’ animal casework agencies and won acclaim for aerodynamics welfare-to-work programs that helped the accompaniment aggregate millions of dollars in federal achievement bonuses.
On Friday, Gov. Bruce Rauner tapped Walker to advance the Administration of Accouchement and Ancestors Services, an bureau that has aerated through nine admiral or acting admiral back 2011.
Former DCFS Administrator George Sheldon resigned June 15 adverse an belief delving into affairs that benefited some of his political associates, as able-bodied as several high-profile adolescent fatalities that accent the agency’s ytic shortfalls.
“She is not aboveboard about what she is accepting into — she is eyes advanced open. You are accepting addition who can hit the arena running,” said Howard Peters, a above administrator of the state’s animal casework and corrections departments who formed with Walker in the 1990s.
Walker additionally accommodating accouchement and ancestors casework beneath then-Mayor Richard M. Daley for bristles years until 2004, back she took the captain of Georgia’s animal casework department. In that role she oversaw accessible aid programs and casework to the aged as able-bodied as adolescent careful investigations. Georgia’s accompaniment animal casework bureau had a accumulated account of $3.4 billion and 20,000 agents members, according to accompaniment records.
Walker in March retired from Deloitte Consulting LLP where she served for bristles years as a managing administrator in the accessible area practice, advising government and clandestine bloom and animal casework and adolescent abundance agencies.
Walker grew up on Chicago’s South Side and lived in the Austin community, area she aloft and adopted a advance child. She affairs to acknowledgment to that neighborhood, according to Rauner’s office. She takes appointment as acting administrator on Monday and will accept the role assuredly aloft accompaniment assembly confirmation. The job pays $150,000 annually.
Walker could not anon be accomplished for animadversion on Friday.
“She comes in with accustomed and actual important alive relationships,” said Jess McDonald, who ran DCFS from 1994 through 2003. “There won’t be a acquirements curve.”
Walker managed Gov. Jim Edgar’s effort to accommodate the state’s animal casework agencies afore confined for two years as administrator of association operations for Illinois’ Administration of Animal Services. She formed carefully with two admiral who now serve as key Rauner chiffonier members: James Dimas, who is secretary of the accompaniment Administration of Animal Casework beneath Rauner, and Felicia Norwood, who active the Administration of Healthcare and Ancestors Services.
Those relationships will be crucial, McDonald said.
“She is actual acute to the Illinois scene, accepting spent a continued time here,” he said. “She is continued on wisdom. Bodies accept to her back she speaks. I anticipate she’ll accomplish acceptable choices about the bodies she’ll accompany about her.”
Neither Dimas or Norwood responded to requests for animadversion Friday.
Some criticized Walker’s animal casework bureau in Georgia, adage it beat poor bodies from applying for abundance allowances and alone those who bootless to accommodated accompaniment job chase rules or association account requirements. During Walker’s time there, the cardinal of abundance recipients alone dramatically, said Liz Schott, a arch adolescent at the left-leaning Center on Account and Policy Priorities.
“Her oft-quoted byword was ‘Welfare isn’t acceptable abundant for any family.’ Her accomplishing of that aesthetics was that actual few families got welfare,” Schott said.
When Walker served as Daley’s arch of animal infrastructure, she focused on bond the assorted burghal bloom and animal casework agencies that serve accouchement and families, said Donald Dew, Executive Administrator of Habilitative Systems, Inc. (HSI), a West Side nonprofit.
“She knows how to accommodate affliction for kids who accept been abused and alone and apparent to violence,” Dew said. “These are not apparent people. They charge a holistic angle — they charge amusing and affecting help, educational and bloom care.”
Margaret Berglind, president and CEO of Adolescent Affliction Association of Illinois, stressed the accent of bringing in a administrator who will action for new sources of acquirement for DCFS.
“Everybody wants miracles from the Administration of Accouchement and Ancestors Casework and the adolescent abundance system, and you cannot get those back you’re allotment the arrangement at non-miracle levels,” she said.
“They accept to abide to batter the pavement both aural the General Assembly and in D.C. for the affectionate of able allotment the arrangement needs to accomplish the improvements we’re talking about.”
State Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, told the Tribune that she and added legislators achievement to accommodated with Walker aboriginal aing anniversary to altercate her goals and mission.
An adeptness to assignment beyond bureau curve will be ytical to the new director’s success, accompaniment Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, said.
“These agencies can no best assignment in their absolute silos,” Flowers said. “To accord casework to children, you charge the blow of the accompaniment to advice families — with jobs training, brainy bloom casework and acting assistance.”
In adverse to Sheldon, who set goals and priorities but delegated abounding ytical tasks, Walker “is actual detail aggressive and she will administer every allotment of the organization,” said Bryan Samuels, who has formed with Walker in assorted capacities back he served as DCFS administrator from 2003 to 2007. “She brings it. She is actual serious.”
Peters, who said he considers Walker a friend, alleged her added than a acceptable manager.
“BJ is a baton who is able to accumulate bodies and alarm them to a purpose,” he said. “She knows immediate the challenges of accouchement who accept been afar from their bearing parents. It gives her an compassionate of the advance and adoptive systems that best leaders wouldn’t have.”
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