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September 28, 2017


It’s a hidden epidemic in Chicago and throughout Illinois: child abuse and neglect. The number of children reported as abused or neglected in Illinois has steadily increased in recent years, according to data compiled by the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services.

In fiscal year 2011, a total of 101,507 children were reported as abused or neglected. Since then, that number has increased each year. By 2015, the number had skyrocketed to 110,098 children. That’s an 8.5 percent increase over just four years.

The DCFS report reveals that 59 foster parents and 97 adoptive parents in 2015 abused or neglected children. In the previous year, 50 foster parents and 103 adoptive parents were described as “perpetrators” in child abuse and neglect cases.

Our attorneys have represented children who were abused or neglected while in the care of an adoptive or foster family. We understand the devastating and heartbreaking nature of cases involving horrific abuse of children, including deaths of young people.

That’s why we support efforts by states to address child abuse and neglect, including cases involving children in foster care or adoptive homes.

What is Illinois doing to protect children?

In Illinois, DCFS – in partnership with the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Diana Rauner, wife of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner – announced the start of the Illinois Early Childhood Court Team initiative in July. The so-called Safe Babies Court Project, which bring together DCFS and the Cook County Courts, was created to foster a better way to help babies and toddlers affected by trauma. Officials say the effort will help families receive services to address basic problems and help children.

The rise in the number of abuse and neglect cases is not only a troubling trend in Illinois. It’s happening across the country. Nationwide, the number of minors in child welfare system jumped to 7.2 million in 2015, up from 6.6 million in 2014. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

States have differing definitions of child abuse and neglect. The federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in 2010 produced this definition: “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm” to the child.

What’s Being Done

report in Huffpost finds that many states are strengthening efforts to protect children in the wake of alarming increases each year in abuse and neglect cases. Some have added more case workers, broadened the definition of child abuse and created stricter reporting requirements.

As attorneys who advocate on behalf of children, we know that proactive efforts by states to reduce abuse and neglect can have a positive effect on the lives of young people. Unfortunately, the system sometimes fails to protect children.

If a child is seriously injured as a result of abuse from foster parents or adoptive parents in Illinois, we can step in and work to protect the rights of that child. Deratany & Kosner is here to help. Call 800-529-7285 or complete our online contact form to reach us today. Our law firm is located in downtown Chicago and serves families statewide.

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