Tag: dcfs

Illinois DCFS Inspector General Calls For Urgent Reforms – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — We must act with a sense of urgency – that is what the inspector general for the Department of Children and Family Services said about improving the embattled agency. This came after she confirmed that another five dozen children with a DCFS history have died in just the past six months. CBS 2 Investigator Dana Kozlov obtained a memo outlining some new changes. It was April of last year when Gov. J.B. Pritzker toured a new DCFS facility and promised to improve the much-maligned agency. “This is all part of an effort by DCFS and by my ... Read more

DCFS Worker Involved in Freund Case Defends Record – NBC Chicago

A state child welfare worker who investigated an abuse claim months before a 5-year-old suburban Chicago boy was found beaten to death has defended his record. Carlos Acosta and a supervisor were fired from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services after a lengthy disciplinary process. Both were involved in an investigation of Andrew “A.J.” Freund, who was found dead in April and had a extensive contact with the child welfare agency. The boy’s mother, Joann Cunningham, pleaded guilty to murder and his father, Andrew Freund, is awaiting trial. Acosta was the child protection specialist assigned to check a December 2018 call from ... Read more

50 New Illinois Laws Going Into Effect in 2020 – NBC Chicago

New year, new laws. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, hundreds of new Illinois laws will go into effect – exactly 255, to be specific. Here’s a look at 50 of the most interesting new measures that could impact you nearly every day. EDUCATION HB 26: All Illinois high schoolers with a grade point average in the top 10% of their class will be accepted to Northern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University (provided they meet other criteria like college preparatory curriculum requirements and test scores). SB 1601: Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, U.S. history ... Read more

DCFS, Lakeshore Hospital Sued by Public Guardian Over Alleged ‘Unspeakable Acts of Sexual Abuse’ – NBC Chicago

A lawsuit claims the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and Chicago Lakeshore Hospital “turned a blind eye” to sexual and physical abuse inflicted upon children at the psychiatric hospital. The 16-count suit, filed in federal court Tuesday by Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert, lists DCFS overseers as well as former Lakeshore administrators and nurses among its defendants. Lakeshore’s parent company, Signature Healthcare Services, LLC, is also included as a defendant. It comes over a year after the alleged abuse was brought to light by a ProPublica investigation. In December 2018, the federal government slashed their funding to ... Read more

DCFS Workers Who Oversaw AJ Freund Case No Longer Employed by State – NBC Chicago

Two child welfare employees who oversaw AJ Freund’s case for months before his murder are no longer employed by the agency. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services confirmed Friday that Carlos Acosta and his supervisor Andrew Polovin left the agency after a lengthy internal investigation. “Following the heartbreaking death of AJ Freund, DCFS began a comprehensive review of the entirety of our work with AJ’s family to understand what needs to change to prevent tragedies like this from happening again,” DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch said in an email. “As part of this review, DCFS has taken personnel action ... Read more

Two DCFS Workers Tied To A.J. Freund Case No Longer Working With Agency – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Two DCFS workers involved in the A.J. Freund case are no longer with the state’s child protection agency. “Following the heartbreaking death of A.J. Freund, DCFS began a comprehensive review of the entirety of our work with A.J.’s family to understand what needs to change to prevent tragedies like this from happening again,” DCFS said in a statement. “As part of this review, DCFS has taken personnel action regarding Carlos Acosta and Andrew Polovin, the caseworker and supervisor involved in the case. Mr. Acosta and Mr. Polovin are no longer employed by the state. DCFS is continuing ... Read more

Judge Orders Policy Change At DCFS After Teens Are Shackled – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — In a story you saw first on 2, two foster boys with no criminal report were unnecessarily shackled on a recent transport. As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, a judge has ordered change within the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. “DCFS is in crisis,” said Heidi Dalenberg, director of institutional reform for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. The DCFS, which of course is in charge of keeping kids safe, is taking fire from multiple directions. ”One thing is that they have affirmatively put out there that they’re not going to be using shackles ... Read more

In Latest Failure, DCFS Left 10-Year-Old Child In An Office, For 30 Hours – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Workers for the state’s child welfare agency knowingly left a 10-year-old child in their office for 30 hours, failing to place the child in a proper facility. “A stranger who lives on the street could have done a better job” caring for the child, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Heidi Dalenberg told a federal court at a hearing on the Department of Children and Family Service’s failures. Dalenberg said 10 high-profile DCFS staffers knew of the case. “No one had the sense to take [the child] to the ER,” she said. Additional details about the child’s case ... Read more

After AJ Fruend’s Death, DCFS Problems In McHenry County ‘Have Gotten Worse,’ State’s Attorney Says – CBS Chicago

(CBS) — In the months since the death of AJ Freund, the McHenry County State’s Attorney says the system that failed the Crystal Lake five-year old has actually gotten worse. In a letter obtained exclusively by CBS2, State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally writes “The problems with the DCFS Office in McHenry County have gotten worse over the last several months, not better.  The root of the problems, however, remain the same – a lack of accountability for inadequate performance.” Kenneally points out three cases since AJ’s death where he says DCFS failed children in McHenry County. “To illustrate this point, consider ... Read more

Crowd Celebrates What Would Have Been AJ Freund’s Birthday – CBS Chicago

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (CBS) — Dozens of people in Crystal Lake came together Sunday to celebrate the life of AJ Freund. AJ would have turned 6 on Monday, but now, he is dead and his parents face murder charges. And as CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported, people are outraged. The people who attended the march for AJ on Sunday didn’t care that it was a windy, chilly day. They walked miles, silently holding signs that screamed a message. “Just outrage and just a real deep grieving for this child that never got a chance,” said Colleen Schor of Crystal Lake, ... Read more

Why Was Former CPS Security Guard Free For 10 Years After Abuse Claim? – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago Public Schools security guard was forced to resign back in 2009 after an investigation found that he sexually exploited a student. It happened at Harlan Community Academy High School in the Roseland neighborhood. Police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services were alerted at the time. But prosecutors said the sexual abuse continued for more than a decade. On Wednesday, CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey was asking if other young suspected victims could have been spared. The sign on the building here at Harlan High School, 9652 S. Michigan Ave., “Safe school zone.” ... Read more

Auditor General Report Documents Documents Failures At Illinois DCFS – CBS Chicago

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 ... Read more

Father of Girl Assaulted in Brutal Attack Speaks Out for First Time

After four juvenile girls were charged in the beating of a young Chicago girl with special needs, the victim’s father is speaking out for the first time. “I’m thankful that my daughter has been found and I hope her condition improves,” Mervyn Jenkins said at a press conference Thursday evening. Jenkins’ daughter is in DCFS protective custody after the brutal incident, which was caught on video and shared widely on social media. Jenkins told media that he’s been in contact with DCFS officials, and that there’s a court hearing about his daughter on Friday. Teens Face Charges After Video-Taped Beating ... Read more

DCFS Placed Boy in Foster Home With Convicted Sex Offender Who Repeatedly Abused Him: Suit

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services placed a boy in a foster home with a convicted sex offender, who repeatedly sexually abused the boy, according to two lawsuits filed Thursday. The office of Cook County Public Guardian Charles P. Golbert filed one lawsuit against DCFS, and one against both the foster parent the boy was placed with and her husband, who is the registered sex offender. According to court documents, Cook County juvenile court appointed DCFS as the boy’s guardian on October 30, 2014, because his grandmother could no longer care for him. That same day, DCFS placed ... Read more

‘That’s Not My Daughter’: Wrong Child Taken by DCFS From Day Care for Supervised Visit

A child was mistakenly taken from her daycare by a Department of Children and Family Services employee, who was supposed to pick up a different baby for a supervised parental visit. Chanel Haney said her daughter was dropped off at a day care on Madison Avenue in Maywood last Wednesday morning. Hours later, she received a call from an employee at the day care with some unsettling news. “’Your daughter has been in a mixup with DCFS’ – that’s all she said,” Haney said. “Then, she said, ‘Your daughter was taken off campus.’” Haney said she rushed to the day ... Read more

DCFS Closes Investigation Into Abuse Allegations Against Father John Smyth Of Maryville Academy – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — DCFS has closed its investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Father John Smyth of Maryville Academy, and, while the agency determined the allegations to be unfounded, that finding doesn’t exonerate the late priest. DCFS bases its findings on whether there is a current threat to a child who is under age 18. Father John Smyth, who ran Maryville Academy for decades. Father Smyth died this spring, eliminating any current threat. DCFS rules dictate an automatic “unfounded” determination in this case. What exactly is in the report? We’ll never know. DCFS does not release its reports as a ... Read more

Former Foster Mom Speaks Out After 20-Month-Old Dies Amid Investigation

A foster mom is speaking out after the 20-month-old child she was fostering died just weeks after the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services returned her to her family. Renee Mingilino is heartbroken by the death of her former foster child Cheri Kennon, who she cared for for nearly a year. “I feel like I lost a child,” Mingillino said. Cheri was returned to her birth mom this Spring. She died 6 weeks later. “It was my goal that Cheri be returned to her family, but under the right circumstances,” Mingilino said. “This family was not held accountable.” Mingilino ... Read more

JB Pritzker Promises Swift Action on DCFS Woes After Critical Report

What to Know A study commissioned by Pritzker revealed agencies deluged by red tape, and workers who lack adequate oversight The study also revealed that private providers get paid less money if cases remain open after six months Governor Pritzker has called for a $75 million increase in DCFS funding and 126 new caseworkers Governor J.B. Pritzker is promising swift action after receiving a critical new report which portrays the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as an agency beset by red tape, where workers feel pressure to keep families together, lack adequate oversight, and are blocked by internal ... Read more

New DCFS Report Paints Bleak Picture of Turbulent Agency

A critical new report portrays the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as an agency beset by red tape, where workers feel pressure to keep families together, lack adequate oversight, and are blocked by internal structures from sharing critical information about endangered children. “DCFS is going to have to address structural, procedural, and cultural systemic issues,” said Dr. Dana Weiner of the Chapin Hall Center at the University of Chicago, which authored the report. The study targeted the agency’s “Intact Family Services” program, where at-risk children are allowed to stay in their parents’ homes. That program services almost 5,000 ... Read more

Family Of Missing Crystal Lake Boy Is No Stranger To Police – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — A.J. Freund’s family is no stranger to police. CBS 2 has dug into dozens of pages of past police reports from times that officers were called out to the home. CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos has the latest from the family’s Crystal Lake home where police searched within the past hour. Crystal Lake police visited the home 10 times over the past five years. On Tuesday, detectives looked in the backyard but their focus seemed to be on the grass in the front and the side of the house. It’s unclear what prompted detectives to revist the house. Officers in ... Read more

Parents Of 5 Kids Killed In Portage Drunk Driving Accident « CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — A couple was on their way to have a date night when they ended up in the path of a drunk driver. The couple, killed in the accident, leaves behind five children. CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos reports the couple was supposed to be at the Little League fields Thursday night. The games were cancelled due to the fatal accident. The mother who was killed was going to be running the concessions. Some of the couple’s kids were expected to play in the game and one was supposed to be the umpire. The fields were empty after a family ... Read more

DCFS Investigations Surface Involving Families Of Fire Victims « CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Vigils continued Wednesday for the ten children killed in a house fire in Little Village over the weekend. The surviving family members have not broken their silence since the tragic incident.  Several DCFS investigations have surfaced involving all of the families. Investigators believe the victims, aged 3 months to 16 years, may have been at a sleepover when the fire broke out, with no parental supervision. Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services sent out an eight-page background on the families affected by the fire. Three of the four mothers of children who died have ... Read more