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DCFS Chief Stands Behind His Department's Actions In A Joliet Child's Death


The head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is defending the decision to leave a toddler in a Joliet Township house where she was later found dead. George Sheldon answered questions about the incident at a State Senate hearing Wednesday in Springfield.

One-year-old Semaj Crosby was found dead under a couch last Thursday. Her mother had reported her missing a couple of days earlier. Just before that, the family had been visited by a caseworker from DCFS.

County investigators later declared the house uninhabitable, citing roaches, bedbugs, and trash. But Sheldon said his agents don't take kids away from parents “because of a dirty house. The child may be loved, and cared for, but they may be poor.”

Sheldon said he’s seen Semaj's records, and nothing in them warranted removing the child.

He told senators he's ordered a review of the case and is committed to "full transparency.”

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.