CHICAGO (CBS) — Children trapped in psychiatric hospitals longer than they need to be and others simply falling through cracks are some of the critical problems the CBS 2 Investigators have been exposing for years at the Department of Children and Family Services. Some baby steps were taken Friday to finally address them.
They are problems at the root of a nearly 30-year-old consent decree. Lawyers representing the kids in the system say DCFS still isn’t doing enough.READ MORE: MISSING: Kianna Smith, 19, Last Seen April 6
The CBS 2 Investigators uncovered the horrific story of a 10-year-old girl sexually assaulted for years even after DCFS was alerted to the abuse. Charges were never filed. She was then locked in psychiatric hospital well after she was ready for discharge.
“Because DCFS has nowhere to place her – a long standing problem,” said Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert.
The CBS 2 Investigators also broke the story of a 17-year-old who sat in a locked psychiatric hospital for 67 days longer than he should have. DCFS even took the matter to court to try to keep him silent.
“It’s like being forgotten locked up in this hospitals like shelters or prisons,” said Golbert said then.
Golbert again spoke out on those issues Friday.
“Those two stories that your station broke very much illustrate some of these problems,” he said.READ MORE: Electrical Fire At O'Hare International Airport Closes Pedestrian Tunnel
They were heartbreaking issues addressed at Friday’s status hearing in federal court — where the agency and its monitors said research, analysis and studies are underway to further explore many of the issues that have been pointed out in the consent decree — signed in 1991.
That includes caseloads.
“DCFS has a 10% vacancy rate for investigators statewide,” Golbert said.
He was disappointed by the lack of measurable progress in many of the areas discussed.
A federal judge ended the hearing by saying, “I am as frustrated as everyone else regarding our inability to move the needle. But I trust that steps are being taken and that soon and maybe even by the next report we will start to see actual results.”
“To describe what’s happening now as glacially slow progress is really an insult to all the glaciers out there because there hasn’t been any progress out there. This vessel has been moving backwards,” Golbert said.
The next status hearing to check in on progress is July 8.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Update: Indiana Reports 1,263 New Cases, 5 Additional Deaths
The latest data included in the progress report show reports of maltreatment ticking up steadily since about May of 2018. Reports are currently well above the target rate.