CHICAGO (CBS) — Three of the four mothers of the children who died in the Little Village fire had histories with the Department of Child and Family Services. One of the mothers was investigated at least 21 times. With that many red flags, was enough done to protect the children? CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole looked further into matter.
Five of Yolanda Ayala’s children perished in the fire. DCFS investigated Ayala at least 21 times, mostly for inadequate supervision from 2004 to this year.
“That’s highly unusual,” said Charles Golbert, the Court County Public Guardian who represents juvenile interests in court. “Lots of red flags there.”
DCFS investigators ruled the reports “unfounded” and Ayala, who served time for theft in 2015, kept custody of her children.
Child advocates argue after several unfounded reports, senior investigators should be called in to review cases.
“Nothing was done for this family or these children,” Golbert stated. “You would think, at some point, whether it’s the fifth investigation or eighth investigation, DCFS would think at a minimum, the family would benefit from some services in the home.”
Last year, DCFS came under fire when 17-month-old Semaj Crosby’s death was ruled a homicide. A case worker visited her Joliet Township home hours before she was reported missing, and the house was the subject of numerous abuse and neglect complaints.
In the last decade, DCFS has had seven directors. In roughly the same period, a state report found 19 children died for undetermined causes, while their families were under DCFS supervision. Another 10 were killed in their own homes, while families were receiving DCFS services.
“It’s not possible to make consistent systemic types of changes at DCFS without consistent, high quality leadership and DCFS has not had that over the last decade,” Golbert said.
Sonya Carillo, whose 16-year-old son Victor was also killed in the fire, was the subject of at least six DCFS investigations. Two of those had credible evidence of neglect.
DCFS says none of the previous reports against these mothers rose to the level of removing them from their homes.
All four mothers are now the subject of investigations because of the fatal fire.