CHICAGO (CBS) — A critical report was released Thursday about the embattled Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
The review highlights problems that experts say could keep children in dangerous situations. CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov investigated some of the issues Thursday night.
Just a few months ago, thousands grieved the death of A.J. Freund, 5. His parents are now charged with killing him.
With his family already having been under the DCFS’s watch, Freund’s death was the latest to raise questions about how the department handles cases – especially those involving prior agency conduct.
Those are just some of the matters reviewed in the 114-page auditor general’s compliance report.
Among the findings are that the DCFS made “untimely determinations of whether child abuse and neglect reports were indicated or unfounded,” and “failed to initiate timely investigations into abuse and neglect reports,” although those numbers improved from year to year.
The report, covering the period from June 2016 through June 2018, also found something that Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert found especially disturbing – regarding the child abuse hotline.
The report found there was no documentation of a state central register created for 45 percent of the 60 examined hotline calls.
In other words, if someone calls the hotline about a child, it is supposed to be logged into a central registry – so that if someone calls about the child again, DCFS workers are aware and respond accordingly.
Golbert said the lack of a prior report could impact the attention a child’s case receives.
The auditor general also found the DCFS has only half of the required number of bilingual caseworkers, which could also impact services.
On Thursday night, a DCFS representative said the agency takes the report seriously and is working to improve the quality of its work.