DCFS director resigns after cancer diagnosis

DCFS director resigns after cancer diagnosis

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Richard Calica will resign due to serious illness. Director Calica has been diagnosed with cancer and today informed the Governor of his medical condition.

Calica has served as Director of DCFS since December 2011, leading an overhaul and major reorganization of the agency at a time of major budget challenges. DCFS chief of staff Denise Gonzales will step in as Acting Director effective immediately.

"It's been an honor and a privilege to serve under Governor Quinn," Director Calica said. "This has been the most difficult and rewarding time of my career in child welfare. The reforms that we've put in place will maximize this agency's ability to ensure the safety of children who are at risk of abuse and neglect for years to come."

"My heart and prayers are with Director Calica and his family during this very difficult time," Governor Quinn said. "During a most difficult time, Director Calica has taken this agency in the right direction and he always put the safety of our most vulnerable children first. We are deeply grateful for his service, which has saved countless lives."

Under Director Calica's leadership, DCFS has added 138 new investigators to the frontlines, reducing caseloads from as high as 20 to nine per investigator. Director Calica streamlined the department's operations to focus resources on front line case workers while eliminating an entire layer of middle management. He also eliminated the backlog he inherited of more than 2,500 overdue investigations.

The director also established a new system of performance measures across the agency to increase accountability, and modernized the agency's 30-year-old hotline system, which has led to 40 percent increase in the volume of callers who immediately reach a child protection specialist.

Director Calica will work with agency leadership to transition over the coming days.

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