CHICAGO (CBS) — DCFS has confirmed that their agency is looking into allegations of abuse and neglect at Chicago shelters housing children separated from their parents at the Mexican border.
Child advocates say if recent allegations of mistreatment are true, the children still in the facilities could be at risk.
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports James McIntyre with Foster Care Alumni of America says his group lodged a complaint with DCFS Wednesday after hearing alarming stories from the Brazilian boys about their stay at a shelter run by Heartland Alliance.
The boys told a Washington Post reporter that they were shouted at, dragged, and threatened.
“We know the signs, we read the signs, and we said somebody has to do something,” McIntyre stated.
“We can’t just wait around for the inspector general or the federal government to decide whether to investigate,” McIntyre said, referring to calls from Senator Dick Durbin for a federal investigation.
A spokesperson from Durbin said in a phone conversation Wednesday, Heartland officials assured the Senator that they have “already begun gathering and reviewing incident reports of children at their facilities, reviewing medical records, examining their policies and protocols, and reviewing staff disciplinary records.”
The charges behind the move include 9-year-old Diogo saying he felt like a prisoner after being isolated nearly three weeks with the chickenpox. He says staff put up a gate to keep him in his room.
“We think ‘Would I do that to our own children?’ The answer is no,” McIntyre stated.
10-year-old Diego says he was casted for a broken arm without seeing a doctor.
“Illinois needs to do an investigation to make sure that other kids aren’t getting abused and neglected at this facility,” McIntyre said.
DCFS confirmed it is looking into the allegations of abuse and neglect. Heartland has some 450 children in their care. It is believed 69 of them are migrant children separated from their parents at the border.