Illinois DCFS recent report card shows many failures

Reick says 17 findings are category one, which mean they’re not following state laws.
Published: Sep. 30, 2023 at 1:59 PM CDT
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Ill. (WIFR) - The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) got its report card earlier this week on how it’s been doing the last two years, and it was not good.

“What we have here is an audit of an agency that takes its responsibilities so lightly that we’re leaving abused and neglected children in our wake,” said 63rd district state representative Steve Reick.

89th district state representative Tony McCombie says there’s a great need for transparency in the state government as DCFS’ current audit report shows many children are put into danger.

“As lawmakers it’s up to us to make the changes we need for the people of Illinois, the people we serve, and the people who rely on these agencies for their well-being,” she said.

Reick says 17 findings are category one, which mean they’re not following state laws. He finds 100% of the investigations for reported suspicions of abuse or neglect in hospitals were delayed from 34 to 855 days and 96% of indicated sexual abuse notifications to schools were up to 908 days late.

“The findings of this audit are a slap in the face, slap in the face of everyone,” he said. “Democrat, Republican, house or senate who’s worked so hard to try to understand what’s going on with this agency and what we can do to help.”

Becky Rhea faces the failings of DCFS firsthand. She fostered Nathaniel Burton since he was five months old to seven years old. The agency allowed Nathaniel’s biological parents to have the right to see him on weekends after completing parenting videos.

“At the most strange times, he would tell me incidences of abuse,” she said.

Rhea says one of those times of abuse resulted in Nathaniel’s death, his biological mother accused of killing him while he was in her care.

“They need to make investigations right away, they need to listen when people call in for the children, you know, saying there’s abuse going on,” she said. “I think they need to take those seriously.”

Rhea says she reporter the abuse to DCFS multiple times and sometimes they would just ignore her requests and make excuses.

“We thought that, you know, somehow things would change and he would get the help he needed.”

McCombie says the state will hold DCFS accountable and the agency can even face the consequence of a lower budget for not doing their job correctly.