SSA alumnus Calica to direct Department of Children and Family Services

Richard Calica, AM’73, a graduate of the School of Social Service Administration, has been named Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. He begins his appointment Thursday, Dec. 15, according to an announcement made by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

Calica has been a field instructor at SSA and served on the school’s Alumni Board from 2003 to 2004. He also has been a career mentor volunteer with SSA’s career office. For 33 years he has been executive director of the Juvenile Protective Association, a Chicago-based agency with a long history of mentoring SSA students. 

Calica spoke highly of SSA in a video prepared for the SSA Centennial: “SSA is a school that helps you think about problems so that if you get turned around 15 degrees, you don’t get lost. It’s a place that teaches students not just the ‘how-tos,’ but the ‘how-comes’—and how do you think about this problem.”

SSA Dean Neil Guterman, the Mose & Sylvia Firestone Professor in SSA, said, “We at SSA are delighted to learn that alumnus Richard Calica will take up the helm at Illinois DCFS.”

“SSA has a long history of informing and working to advance services for children facing abuse and neglect. We look forward to ongoing opportunities to support Richard in his new role safeguarding and supporting Illinois’ most vulnerable children and families." 

Calica is a lifelong social worker with extensive leadership experience in serving children and families throughout the state. A national authority in child welfare and licensed clinical social worker, he has broad expertise in family preservation and support.

“We are committed to ensuring that the children of Illinois have the support and protection they need to become healthy, productive and responsible adults,” Quinn said. “Richard Calica’s decades of experience in caring for neglected and abused children bolster our efforts toward building a better future for all Illinois children.”

Calica said, “All children deserve the opportunity to grow up in a healthy environment with strong support systems. It is my highest priority to ensure the safety of our children, and I am honored to accept this new mission to help and protect children who are abused and neglected.”

In addition to having maintained a private clinical social work practice and working in mental health centers, Calica has served on the faculty of the Institute for Clinical Social Work and at the Loyola University of Chicago School of Social Work.

Under former Governor Jim Edgar, Calica served as chairman of the Governor’s Task Force on Family Preservation from 1993 to 1994. He currently chairs the DCFS Risk Assessment Advisory Committee. He has been the Chair of the DCFS Expert Panel on Best Practices for Child Welfare.

He completed a post-graduate fellowship in clinical social work at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Division of Psychiatry, and received his BA in psychology from Brooklyn College.

Calica is a past president of the Child Care Association of Illinois and has served as a consultant for numerous leading child welfare organizations.

His wife Judith also is a graduate of SSA and a clinical social worker in private practice.