Illinois’ child welfare agency late reporting abuse to authorities, audit finds

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(The Center Square) – The latest report card for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services shows that problems still persist with the agency.

In an adverse opinion, the Illinois Auditor General highlighted 33 mistakes, including that in 96% of cases, DCFS failed to notify a school in a timely manner when credible evidence of abuse was found and in some cases not notifying the schools for years.

“Because of the significance and pervasiveness of the findings described within the report, we (the accountants) expressed an adverse opinion on the Department’s compliance with the specified requirements which comprise a State compliance examination,” an audit summary said. An adverse audit opinion is required “when the practitioner, having obtained sufficient appropriate evidence, concludes that misstatements, individually or in the aggregate, are both material and pervasive to the subject matter.”

In the most serious cases involving child death, injury, malnutrition and sex abuse, DCFS is required to notify local police authorities within 24 hours. The agency failed to do so 20% of the time, in some cases waiting up to 43 days, according to the audit.

State Rep. Steven Reick, R-Woodstock, said the agency continues to make mistakes while dealing with vulnerable human beings.

“You can’t continue to make these mistakes and have these kids fall through the cracks and not expect there to be a downstream effect,” Reick told The Center Square. “These kids are going to end up in the same system in 10 to 15 years and we’re going to end up with the same thing.”

Earlier this year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked about the audit process and various state agencies having auditors documenting violations.

“I wouldn’t look at the number or the repetition of some of those so much,” Pritzker said. “We do look to see what are the new ones that get found that we need to address.”

The trial of two former DCFS employees charged in connection with the death of a 5-year-old suburban Chicago boy will resume in October. They are accused of failing to follow the policies of the agency when they returned the boy to his home where he was later murdered by his mother.

DCFS is getting an 11% boost in its budget next year, surpassing $2 billion in Illinois taxpayer money for the first time.

A request for comment from DCFS went unanswered.

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