Lawmakers call for more accountability at DCFS, say millions in funding have not helped

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CHICAGO — Lawmakers hoped with an additional $89 million dollars in funding, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services would be able to improve and change. But after a hearing Tuesday about the use and results of this funding, legislators and public guardians said DCFS continues to fall short.

That has lawmakers asking questions and calling for accountability.

“So the hearing was supposed to be about how DCFS is using the additional $89 million that were appropriated,” Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert said. “And we haven’t seen any results in the field as of yet. We still had a child die that DCFS was supposedly monitoring.”

That case, Golbert said, involved a 7-week-old baby found dead in downstate Illinois just last month.

“And for three weeks that child was never seen. That child died under horrific circumstances. The child had bruises, this was a 7-week-old child,” Golbert said

It’s cases like this that lawmakers say shouldn’t be happening.

DCFS acting director Marc Smith explained during the hearing some areas where they will use the increased funding.

“Changing the direction of DCFS and addressing the systematic, structural and cultural problems also takes resources,” he said. “We are in the process of hiring 300 new positions that will impact the entire department."

Positions include hotline and case workers, as well as more investigators.

The funding will also go towards a 5% increase in contracts with private sector partners.

But many said the department failed to provide a tangible plan.

“We keep hearing it takes time, it takes time, but there was another child death in the past several weeks,” Cook County Public Guardian Danielle Gomez said. “Our children continue to be warehoused in hospitals, there needs to be a sense of urgency and a much more concrete plan."

Lawmakers told DCFS officials they still want to see a written plan and a plan that works.

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