By Chris Fusco and Tony Arnold | Chicago Sun-Times / WBEZ
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is poised to get its fifth director in less than a year and a half, as current director Bobbie Gregg announced Wednesday she will leave the post Jan. 19.
Lance Trover, a spokesman for Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner, said that Rauner recently informed Gregg — as well as other undisclosed state agency directors appointed by outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn — that she would not be reappointed by his administration. Trover did not outline a timeline for replacing Gregg, who has been the child-welfare system’s director since April.
“The governor-elect is committed to a transformation at the Department of Children and Family Services and will work closely with the General Assembly to ensure we protect our most vulnerable residents,” Trover said.
Gregg’s announcement came during a legislative hearing about problems raised by a Chicago Tribune investigation of DCFS residential treatment facilities.
Her predecessor, Arthur Bishop, resigned in February in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ investigation that raised questions about a criminal conviction and paternity case in his past. Quinn had appointed Bishop just a month earlier in the wake of DCFS admitting that it had miscounted the number of children who’d died of abuse and neglect for several years.
Gregg, a lawyer turned social worker, vowed to reform the agency, but it became clear that her days were numbered after Rauner was elected. Rauner called for DCFS reforms on the campaign trail.
“My heart will remain in child welfare,” Gregg said. “My objective in seeking this position was to effect change in child welfare and if this is the way in which that happens, then all for the better for the State of Illinois.”
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, an advocate for DCFS reforms during his years as a state legislator, spoke kindly of Gregg when he, too, testified before lawmakers.
“When Director Gregg came on board, she met with me within a week. She’s fantastic,” Dart said. “We started working on a couple things together but . . . she inherited a train wreck. Absolute train wreck.”