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Lawmakers want more transparency from DCFS


Tuesday, September 15, 2020  |  Article  |  By Kevin Bessler | The Center Square

Child welfare (30) , DCFS (30) Morrison, Julie--State Senate, 29

(The Center Square) – Just days after two former employees were arrested in connection with the death of a Crystal Lake boy, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services faced questions about transparency.

During a virtual hearing Monday of the Illinois Senate Human Services Committee, State Sen. Julie Morrison said the agency is required to keep legislators informed.

“Any death or serious life-threatening injury that occurs to a DCFS child must be reported within six months from the time of the death to not just the speaker, but to the actual legislator whose child was their resident,” Morrison said. “I’ve never seen that.”

A recent audit of DCFS found that the system designed to protect Illinois’ vulnerable children had prior contact with 102 kids who died from 2015 to 2017. The report found that there were 163 prior investigations for the 102 victims, with one person investigated nine times before their death. Morrison wondered why the quarterly reports from DCFS were not more accessible.

“I’ve never seen this before, so I am going to be asking that the department consider sending this out to every member of the General Assembly,” Morrison said.

Monday's hearing highlighted some of the challenges of virtual meetings six months into COVID-19 pandemic. Technical difficulties interrupted the hearing several times. People were often talking over one another and the meeting agenda had to be cut short.