Since December, nine children have died under DCFS' watch. Meanwhile, DCFS Director Marc Smith has been held in contempt of court 12 times for failing to place children in state care appropriately.
On Tuesday, Director Smith and DCFS staff appeared before the bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission to answer for troubling missteps outlined in recent State audits of the agency. According to CBS 2 Chicago and other media reports, Smith was grilled by legislators over the agency’s massive and repeated failures to protect children under its care. DCFS Director Marc Smith, the head of the state's child welfare department grades his agency as: "One of the best child welfare systems in the country." Legislators overseeing DCFS see it differently. "You are delusional," said State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Champaign). "The facts are that other states' directors and agencies don't get held in contempt of court over 10 times for being non-responsive." "Who's driving this boat here?" asked State Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Sterling). "Who's supervising? Who's leading?" Since December, nine kids on the radar of Illinois DCFS have died. Several audits of the department reveal glaring problems: 48% of kids that are victims of child abuse or neglect related to substance abuse did not have their cases handed to state's attorneys for review as they're supposed to. In 98% of cases, DCFS was unable to provide home safety checklists and 100% of employees and contractors had no receipt or acknowledgement of DCFS policies. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has repeatedly called for Director Smith’s resignation and a complete restructuring of DCFS. Thus far, those calls have gone unanswered by Governor Pritzker and his administration. No more excuses, it is clear that the leadership and policies at the agency need to change immediately to protect Illinois' most vulnerable children.