ICOY’s Statement on Heidi Mueller’s Appointment to Serve as Next DCFS Director

Publisher: Conor Van Santen

Heidi Mueller, current Director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), has been appointed by Governor Pritzker to serve as the next Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Rob Vickery will serve as interim Director of DJJ.

ICOY CEO Andi Durbin released the following statement to the press regarding the news of Heidi Mueller’s appointment as DCFS Director:

“The Illinois Collaboration on Youth applauds the nomination of Heidi Mueller to lead the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Throughout her 10 years at the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, Director Mueller has demonstrated an abiding commitment to addressing the root causes driving young people into the justice system. Under her leadership, DJJ has embarked on a multi-year effort to transform the juvenile justice system, building restorative justice practices, strengthening community services and aftercare supports, and promoting family engagement so youth are successful when they re-enter the community. She has also focused on mitigating the trauma of incarceration and today, many fewer youth are incarcerated in DJJ, they stay for shorter lengths of time, and they have significantly lower rates of recidivism.

“The same risk factors and systemic challenges, including a legacy of institutional racism and historic underinvestment in low-income communities, are present when families become involved in the child welfare system. Director Mueller understands the importance of investing in young people, their families, and communities so they can thrive.

“In addition, Director Mueller and DJJ have been closely involved with the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative led by Dr. Weiner so she is well-poised to continue to implement the Governor’s Blueprint at DCFS. The members of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth look forward to working closely with Director Mueller and her team at DCFS to help build a system of child and family wellbeing that does not rely on children experiencing harm before they and their families receive the support they need to flourish.

“We also welcome the elevation of Rob Vickery to serve as Interim Director at DJJ. Mr. Vickery has dedicated his career to justice reform in both the community-based and the public sectors. In his role as Deputy Director of Programs at DJJ, he has been instrumental in growing the resources, supports, and evidence-based practices that justice-involved young people need to heal and grow. We are confident that he will continue the successful implementation of the 21st Century Transformation Model at DJJ.”

– Andrea Durbin, Chief Executive Officer

For more information about this appointment, please refer to Governor Pritzker’s press release.