171 Reasons Illinois DCFS Needs to Do Better
A new report revealed that 171 children died while in contact with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in the last year, an uptick of 40% from the preceding year. In the report, Acting Inspector General Ann McIntyre identifies “a systemic pattern of child protection investigations in which there were significant delays in making initial contact with alleged child victims of abuse or neglect.
Child protection investigators are supposed to assess the safety of the alleged child victims in a timely manner. The time frame in which contact was first made with the children ranged from under a month to over 100 days. When contact is made, it was found that often the assessments were superficial in nature. In a number of cases, investigators were not able to make contact with the family and often did not make use of available resources such as daycares, schools, police well-child checks, shift alerts, and on-call workers to locate the families. When a child’s life is on the line, timeliness cannot be sacrificed. When this is not prioritized, it sets their case up to a dangerous start.
In the letter at the opening of the report, Acting Inspector General McIntyre noted another issue of “the critical need for communication and collaboration among multiple entities.” She later writes, “The Department, while charged with protecting children, cannot alone ensure the well-being of our most vulnerable children and families.” This is true; as the old saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Only, we should also add it takes a village to protect a child.
For the average citizen, this can be demonstrated in reporting to authorities when we notice or suspect abuse in a child’s life. Additionally, when exercising your right to vote, vote for candidates who will stand up for the welfare of children. We implore our representatives to do better by our children so that another does not have to senselessly die on their watch. We advocate for the DCFS to receive the resources they need to better protect these children, and in turn demand they follow the recommendations made in the report.