CHICAGO — Five kids have been killed in under four months — two within the past week — despite prior concerns raised about their families to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Six-year-old Damari Perry is one of them. His mother and brother have been charged after his naked body was found burned and frozen in December. The medical examiner ruled he died of hypothermia.
The Cook County Public Guardian continues to sound the alarm over a shortage of caseworkers statewide.
A new court filing says 21% of the investigator jobs needed haven’t been filled. The public guardian says that’s worse than previous years and puts kids in danger.
The child welfare agency says it actually has more investigators on the job now compared to last year, but a dramatic rise in the number of cases is driving the shortage.
DCFS spokesperson Bill McCaffrey said in a statement:
“The Department of Children and Family Services is continuously working to protect vulnerable children and help strengthen families in crisis. Under the current administration, DCFS has made considerable progress in its recruitment, hiring and retention of investigators, as well as using short-term support strategies to address the increased reports of abuse and neglect. The Department’s progress was made in the face of challenges that included the COVID-19 pandemic, a nationwide hiring crisis that has impacted the child welfare sector, and a significant rise in the total number of investigations statewide.”