Department of Human Services

By: Rebekah Baum
By: Rebekah Baum

Boone County DHS is one of the offices that's expected to be relocated. But many state and local leaders say the situation could be devastating to those already harboring enormous burdens.

Dylan dray is a single-father and for the past 10 years, he's relied on public aid as he raises his 11-year-old daughter.

"It's unreasonable that they would want to close a much needed service in this county," says Dray.

An overwhelming sense of frustration looms through Boone County. City and state leaders say the decision to move services for 4700 clients to the Rockford office was made under the radar. State representative Ron Wait says it simply doesn't make sense.

"All they're talking about is around $35 to $40,000...less than $8 per person. For this minuscule savings to ask those people, many who don't have cars, to go to Rockford where there's no mass transit, makes no sense," says State Representative Ron Wait.

Department of Human Services spokesperson Tom Green says the state will save around $1.2 million this year and around $3 million next year by consolidating offices. He says the staff knows their clients' needs, and would continue to provide quality services.

"We'll certainly look at some alternatives, for an example, maybe a case worker has to visit Boone County on a weekly basis to meet with clients, that could potentially be done," says Green.

But many still don't understand how this decision could have been made without the knowledge, or input, from community and public leaders.

"I don't know that is would need to go through the legislature as a body. It's part of a statewide plan by the Department of Human Services," says Green.

"We'll plead with the state to sit down with us, look at alternatives. I'm confident that if we have the opportunity to do it, we'll find a way to keep this service available," says Belvidere Mayor Fred Brereton.

Green says the Boone County office will probably be relocated to Rockford in late January. Meanwhile, Dylan Dray has placed petitions in stores around Boone County, urging people to help reverse the decision.


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