Thursday, November 30, 2006

More DCFS Deaths

The Belleville News-Democrat has done a splendid job turning over the rock under which the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services hides its blunders.

Last Sunday reporters George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer unleashed stories about DCFS lapses that led to the deaths of children worthy of the Chicago Tribune or Sun-Times.

Whether related or not, Governor Rod Blagojevich’s DCFS Director Rich Samuels resigned the week before publication. Samuels refused to be interviewed for the articles.

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog wrote about a 1979 death that might have been prevented by DCFS in Crystal Lake.

Here’s the guts of this week's story:

The News-Democrat found that 53 children died between September 1998 and January 2005 after DCFS workers and employees of contracted private agencies committed serious errors, made questionable judgments, and failed to follow department regulations.
The editors know you won’t want to read their stories. Here’s what they say,
Reading our series about 53 children who died as the result of botched DCFS cases is a distasteful accompaniment to toast and orange juice at breakfast, we know. Many people probably put the series down and never picked it up again. It's human nature to want to avoid or ignore difficult topics like this.

And actually, that's exactly how some people at the Department of Children and Family Services hope you reacted. If they had their way, the details of child death cases would never be made public. They like it that most records are sealed. A number of the workers worry about "heater cases" -- cases that can result in negative press. No negative press, no problem.
You can read the details of the deaths here.

A mother tells of how DCFS failed to protect her son here.

An article debating whether it the police could do a better job than case workers is here. The comments below the article, especially the ones from those in the know about DCFS are fascinating. Astounding is the number of times there was absolutely no discipline.

12 dead children could not be identified. The reporters ask for assistance.

Of course, DCFS is doing a review.

What happened to the caseworkers?
… out of the 50 cases that had substantial errors, not one worker was fired. Just seven workers were suspended, and then for relatively short times.
Sounds like not much has changed since 1979.

As the editors say,
But it's not that DCFS can't get rid of bad employees, it's that its leaders don't have the will to do it. It's easier for DCFS to avoid and ignore difficult situations, also, than to fix things.
Does that sound like any other public institution?

Claudia from Iowa wrote in the comments to the editorial entitled, “Hold DCFS Accountable,
I am a licensed master level social worker who also has a BA in Psychology and Sociology. I agree the system has to change but as I am reading these cases it seems that most of them were investigated several times with the same sad result! Even after many cases were investigated the workers involved only received a slap on the hand even when THEIR mistakes resulted in death!! Making these cases public is a great step.
There are a lot more good comments.

First posted on McHenry County Blog.


Levois 11:45 PM  

A lot of unfortunate stories here.

Pat Hickey 8:27 AM  

The Sanctimonious Samuels, Jess McDonald and those wonderful folks with the ACLU, contemporary to these abuses and the sad deaths of children, systematically smeared and emsaculated the work of Father John Smyth and Maryville - how many kids died in Father Smyth's care?

With all of the HS being scattered as news in the media by agenda driven shills for these public bucaneers its a wonder that all of Illinois does not look like the Garfield conservatory

Bill Baar 1:38 PM  

Wish I could have shoved this story in the face of the code pick guy who followed me and my kid down the street after Hastert's showing at Mill Race Inn in Geneva shouting about Hastert failing to protect the pages.

Bill Baar 1:38 PM  

code pink I mean...

Pat Hickey 8:58 AM  

Apparently, the problems at Maryville began about five years ago when the DCFS stopped shipping troubled wards of the state to more structured, locked facilities in other states. The decision then was based on the premise that those children could get better, less-expensive treatment in Illinois. The kind-hearted Father Smyth, who since the early 1960s had flung open the institution's doors to children in need, accepted those severely troubled children. His approach was to stress kindness and family values. 'And while that approached had worked for years with many of the hundreds of thousands of wards of the state who have passed through Maryville on their way to adulthood, it apparently did not work for some of these more troubled children, some of whom are mentally ill.' Todd Wessel 2002 in the Journal

Once the radical ACLU and the shameless bureaucrats of DCFC buried Maryville - they enacted their 'reforms' and got more kids killed. I love Progressive thought.

Pat Hickey 9:02 AM  

Like this beauty -

Ben Wolf, Associate Legal Direstor and Director, Institutionalized Persons
Project of the Roger Baldwin Foundation, ACLU-IL, will speak at 4:00 PM
October 28th in room D of the Law School, 504 E Pennsylvania Ave, Champaign.

Wolf has recently been active with the ACLU-IL Children's Initiative,
involving reform of the Cook county Juvenile temporary Detention Center,
DCFS and Maryville Academy.

Leland Milton Goldblatt 6:39 PM  

The Belleville News-Democrat has done a splendid doing investigating journalism. Something you do not find anymore in news.

Papers today just feed off comments and or other stories on the wire. Kudos to The Belleville News-Democrat!

But don’t look for them to win an award amongst their peers. Because they are not apart of the big papers who put out the same crap of the papers that are losing subscribers and advertisers every day.


Leland Milton Goldblatt

Anonymous,  10:31 AM  

Bryan Samuels is the name of the former DCFS director, Rich Samuels is a reporter.

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