Illinois DCFS

Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services plans to put all 16,000 children in its custody on Medicaid health insurance. But at a hearing Tuesday, state lawmakers expressed skepticism, saying they’re worried those kids may fall through the cracks.

Nearly 100 Illinois children who died within the last two years were involved with the state’s Department of Children and Family Services. That’s according to a recent Inspector General report

 

Daisy Contreras/NPR Illinois

Lawmakers are urging the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to be more transparent with the public.

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said in a press conference Tuesday the agency withheld reports on incidents of child abuse over the last few months. She says the agency took down the data from its website last July — a first after 35 years. “I’m certainly hoping this isn’t secrecy and trying to shroud facts about what’s going on with children," she said. 

DCFS

An Illinois law passed in 2014 was supposed to ensure that families no longer have to give up custody of their children in order to get them necessary mental health treatment. But it remains an issue to this day, and the chief sponsor of the Custody Relinquishment Prevention Act (HB5598) says several state agencies are to blame.

Blind parents in Illinois are guaranteed certain rights under new state guidelines.

Deborah Kent Stein is with the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois. She says this will help clarify the protections already outlined under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which says that a disability cannot be used as the only factor to determine parenting capabilities.

Governor Names New DCFS Director

Jun 23, 2017
LinkedIn

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed Beverly (BJ) Walker as Director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

   

Walker has leadership and management experience from more than 30 years in human services and education.

She previously worked for the State of Illinois as Director of Community Operations for the Department of Human Services. Walker also served as Assistant to the Governor for Human Services Reform under Gov. Jim Edgar.

"Swings" By Flickr User halfrain / (CC X 2.0)

A progress report filed in federal court shows that Illinois' child welfare agency has slowly made "incremental" improvements, but concerns linger about the impact of the state's budget impasse and a "revolving door" of leadership.

DCFS Director Resigns; Rauner Names Interim

May 31, 2017
illinois.gov

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has named Lise Spacapan interim director of the Department of Children and Family Services, pending a national search for a new head of the agency.

According to a news release, current director George Sheldon will be moving out of state for a new position effective June 15. He will take on the role of President and CEO of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc.

Spacapan currently works as General Counsel of Illinois DCFS. She received her L.L.M. in Health Law in 2014 and serves on the DePaul College of Law Health Law Institute. 

DCFS

Lee and Whiteside County need more foster parents, according to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. 

DCFS says only two foster parents are registered in the counties, while 17 children were in Whiteside County Care and eight in Lee County care as of January 31. 

Illinois officials continue to remind residents that human trafficking remains a problem. 

It can include being forced to perform labor or work as a prostitute, and often involves minors.  George Sheldon directs the state’s Department of Children and Family Services.  He says there have been 821 allegations of child sex trafficking in the state since 2011.  

Illinois Near Top In Nation For Human Trafficking Cases

Jan 4, 2017
"streetlight" by Flickr User David McGregor

Illinois ranks fifth in the nation for cases of human trafficking.

Public education efforts are underway for National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services says it investigated 143 reports of trafficking last year, many of which were child victims. 

Trafficking can happen with labor, but sex trafficking is a large component; Rockford is one of the state’s largest hubs for sex trafficking. 

However, Veronica Resa, with DCFS, says incidents can occur just about anywhere.

DCFS

Illinois has created a network of emergency foster care homes.

    

Department of Children and Family Services Director George Sheldon says these homes are places youth in the state's care can be sent in lieu of emergency shelters.

Sheldon told a legislative panel Tuesday that there's currently capacity for 36 kids. His goal is to have room for 50.

"Frankly, this state had a series of emergency foster homes a decade or so ago. I don't know why that was abandoned. I think it's a much more appropriate facility," Sheldon said.

illinois.gov

A federal judge has approved an improvement plan for Illinois' child welfare agency that includes reforms for helping children with psychological, emotional and behavioral problems.

U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso signed off on the overhaul on Wednesday. The roughly 60-page document is part of a longtime consent decree aimed at improving care. It follows an American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois lawsuit.

"Swings" By Flickr User halfrain / (CC X 2.0)

A record number of youth have been killed while in the care of Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services, many of them victims of Chicago's gang violence.

The Chicago Tribune reports 11 youths died during a two-year period that ended June 30, 2015.

A confidential Office of the Inspector General report obtained by the newspaper notes societal problems such as poverty played a role. It also identifies failures in the state system.

Many teens were placed for long periods in emergency shelters or in homes located in rival gang territories.

Audit Finds Flaws In DCFS Tracking Systems

Sep 8, 2016
"Keyboard" By Flickr User Jeroen Bennink / (CC BY 2.0)

A new audit of Illinois’ child welfare system shows the state’s long-troubled Department of Children and Family Services is not tracking some basic data about where children are being placed.

Every year - DCFS leaves kids in places where they shouldn’t be.

They stay locked up in juvenile detention centers even though they’re free to go.

And they remain in hospitals for mental health needs even though it’s no longer medically necessary.

But a new audit shows DCFS isn’t tracking how often that happens.

"Swings" By Flickr User halfrain / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed an executive order banning the state from calling children under its care wards and instead instructing they be called "youth in care."

Rauner signed the order Friday afternoon at the Illinois State Fair. It says the change is necessary because referring to foster children as wards make them "feel they are part of a bureaucracy instead of a family."

It states that the way children are treated and labeled "has a substantial effect on their self-confidence and their trust in those they rely on."

illinois.gov

The head of Illinois' child welfare agency says the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer has spurred more focus in how the agency handles cases of troubled youths.

Department of Children and Family Services Director George Sheldon says since police footage was released in November, agency workers have gone through thousands of pages of documents relating to Laquan McDonald, who was a state ward for most of his 17 years.

Sheldon says the agency has changed how workers review cases like McDonald's.

gpb.org

Illinois officials want parents to be more vigilant when young children are playing near the water. The reminder follows a string of drownings in recent weeks.