State Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, called the findings of an audit of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigations “unacceptable” in her weekly newsletter to constituents.
The General Assembly passed a resolution ordering an audit after the 2017 death of Joliet Township toddler Sema’j Crosby about investigations between fiscal 2015 and 2017. The report found that during those three years, the number of abuse and neglect investigations increased significantly, going from 67,732 from fiscal 2015 to 75,037 in fiscal 2017, a 10.8% increase.
“The report is a damning display of how overloaded DCFS investigators are and includes troubling statistics,” McDermed said in the newsletter.
She specifically pointed to one finding in which for 65.3% of indicated investigations sampled, there was a lack of documentation regarding whether any services were received by the families involved and the duration of those services.
McDermed said she hopes that the 13 recommendations for improvements within DCFS made by the auditor general will be implemented as soon as possible.
She also noted that legislation was filed last week to require the deputy director of child protection to create a system for checking 5% of cases where allegations were not substantiated and the child is younger than school age, meaning they may not have come into contact with teachers, social workers or other mandated reporters. The measure also bans incentives, monetary or otherwise, from being offered to child investigators or private contractors.