The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is under scrutiny, for a host of reasons: since December at least five children who’ve been in contact with the agency have died.
House Republicans are calling for an audit, and the agency’s director has been held in contempt of court nine times.
That’s because there’s a court docket of children in the state’s care awaiting placement by DCFS.
Marc Smith, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said it’s a small fraction of cases of children that are registered as being prepared and ready for discharge planning from psychiatric hospital. Compared to the over 20,000 children they have in care, at any given time about 35 of those kids are ready for discharge, Smith said.
Charles Golbert is the Cook County public guardian representing some of the children in DCFS’s care. One of them is a 13-year-old boy, who Golbert said DCFS kept in what was supposed to be emergency temporary shelter four hours away from his community in Chicago but was held there for nearly five months.
“It’s not just numbers — these are actual children,” Golbert said.
Smith said the department is working with residential providers across the state to establish a placement plan for the children.
“The thing we have to remember is that these children all have very unique psychiatric, behavioral and medical needs and because they are so unique, it takes time to develop those specific resources for those children,” Smith said.