Require vaccine mandates at agencies with DCFS contracts

Like the children served by day care centers, many of the children who live in DCFS-contracted group homes and residential placements are under age 12 and cannot be vaccinated yet.

SHARE Require vaccine mandates at agencies with DCFS contracts
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Kudos to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his executive order, signed on Friday, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for staff at state-run day care facilities for children.

In a statement, Pritzker correctly noted that many of the children served by day care centers are not eligible for the vaccine. Even if emergency authorization for children comes soon, it will be some time before significant numbers of children will be fully vaccinated.

This executive order follows Pritzker’s laudable executive order in August requiring vaccinations or regular testing for state employees who work in state-run congregate care facilities such as prisons and veterans’ homes, and mandating masks for all long-term care facilities, public and private, such as nursing homes.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be approximately 350 words or less.

Unfortunately, none of these executive orders applies to group homes and residential placements for abused and neglected children in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. That’s because, while these placements are licensed by DCFS, they are operated by private agencies, not the state, and are not considered long-term care facilities.

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The omission of congregate placements for DCFS’s children is troubling. Like the children served by day care centers, many of the children who live in DCFS-contracted congregate placements are under age 12 and cannot be vaccinated yet. They are also some of the state’s most vulnerable children, many of whom have special medical needs. Perhaps most disturbing, the omission sends the message that foster children are a lower priority for protection from COVID-19 than others who receive care in congregate settings, including prisoners.

Let’s fix this loophole forthwith and require that staff at congregate placements for DCFS’ children be vaccinated.

Charles P. Golbert, Cook County public guardian

GOP has shown us exactly who they are ... again

​Last Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked debate on The Freedom to Vote Act, a bill which would protect Americans’ voting rights, being the third time they have done so. When all 50 Senate Democrats voted to advance the bill, a Senate GOP filibuster prevented the bill from even being debated.

Democrats say the bill is necessary to counteract the new voting restrictions being enacted by GOP-controlled state legislatures, all of which make it harder for millions of Americans to vote and thereby to participate in our American democracy. Sen. Mitch McConnell said the Republicans were doing what was necessary to stop the Democrats’ “radical agenda.”

Republicans think that protecting our right to vote,​ our most basic right as American citizens, is a “radical agenda.” The GOP has shown us exactly who they are ... again. Let’s not forget this the next time we vote.

Bob Chimis, Elmwood Park

Some of us depend on mask mandates

I took Metra to Fox Lake last week and was dismayed to see a fellow passenger not wearing a mask. I am a senior and have underlying health issues. This is a violation of federal regulations, but when I questioned the conductor, he stated Metra doesn’t enforce the federal regulation despite there being a sign in the car that states:

“Mask required by Federal Regulation. Masks must be worn regardless of vaccination status. Let’s all do our part to keep each other safe, MyMetra.”

Why isn’t wearing masks enforced by Metra? Airlines do, theaters do, restaurants do, most businesses do — why doesn’t Metra? Why is Metra permitted to shirk its corporate responsibility? 

Daniel FitzSimmons, Northbrook

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