Troubling numbers have been released in a recent report on the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). The report states that nearly 100 children connected to DCFS died in the 2018 fiscal year. Exactly 98 child deaths investigated by the department occurred between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018. Of the 98 deaths that occurred, 18% were due to homicide, 28% occurred accidentally, 26% were undetermined, and 27% happened naturally. 8 of the 98 deaths occurred locally. Fulton, Henry, and McLean were all responsible for one death each, while Peoria and Tazewell were responsible for 3 deaths each.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the number of child deaths correlated with DCFS has been on the rise. From 2000 to 2012, 1,388 child deaths correlated to DCFS were investigated. From 2013 to 2018, that number jumped to 1,982. Many people are appalled by the findings and are claiming that the department is extremely damaged. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois stated, “There can be no more time wasted. We need new leadership in the department.” They then stated, “Nearly 100 children died who were somehow connected to DCFS – nearly 100. This is not tolerable and must be fixed.” DCFS spokesman stated in an email statement, “We appreciate the OIG’s report and are troubled by the findings. In the past several months, we’ve taken significant steps to better protect Illinois children including reducing caseloads, implementing new technology, building collaboration with the Department of Human Services, and moving higher-risk cases back to DCFS from private agencies.”
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker has recognized this issue and is working to assist in fixing the problem. Pritzker has proposed providing additional funding for DCFS, allowing them to hire 126 additional caseworkers and ensuring the department has the resources it needs to appropriately provide for these children. Between the work of DCFS and the assistance from the state of Illinois, the department is determined to see a decline in these numbers in the coming fiscal year.
You can see the Office of the Inspector General’s full report here.