(The Center Square) – Republican lawmakers addressed ongoing issues at state-run facilities and urged the other side of the aisle to work with them on fixes.
The Illinois Auditor General released its report on the Department of Children and Family Services and the Illinois Department of Corrections Tuesday and found ongoing issues that included multiple repeated findings at both agencies. DCFS was found to have ongoing issues that included a failure to notify sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities and the audit into IDOC showed a failure to alert the proper authorities when releasing a sex offender.
House Minority Leader Tony McCombie, R-Savannah, said the Auditor General has done its job. Now, it is time for legislators to get to work.
“We need to acknowledge the problems, and those reports have provided us answers to where the fault lies,” McCombie said. “Now, as lawmakers, it’s up to us to make the changes we need for the people of Illinois.”
McCombie also delivered a message to those in the majority party across the aisle.
“Work with us. These are not partisan issues, these are human issues,” McCombie said. “I know there are Democrat lawmakers out there who are willing to work with us and we welcome their support.”
Messages seeking comment to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the Illinois House Speaker’s officer were not returned.
Other requirements that DCFS failed to meet included notifying local law enforcement of any report alleging the death of a child, serious injury to a child or sexual abuse. The auditor’s report showed the department failed to do this 20% of the time.
DCFS had 33 findings, many of which were repeat findings leading to an adverse opinion, which is the worst possible opinion that an auditor can give, according to state Rep. Steven Reick, R-Woodstock.
“As one who used to be an auditor, this is the worst thing that can be said by an auditor about any entity that it is examining,” Reick said on Friday. “Things have been hidden. They’ve had to ferret them out, and what they have found and what the auditors have found is damning enough for them to say they cannot issue an opinion on that entity that would give us any hope that it is redeemable.”
Reick was asked about DCFS Director Marc Smith, who has been held in contempt of court nine times for failures within his agency, and if he thinks the agency can be fixed with Smith at the helm.
“No, it cannot,” Reick said. “I think we have seen already too many examples of an agency that thinks that it has all the answers but consistently falls short of everything it is supposed to be doing in its mission.”
DCFS is a multi-billion dollar agency funded with Illinois taxpayer funds and is expected to have its largest budget ever in 2024.
Illinois agencies like the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois Department of Employment Security also had serious findings in their recent audits from earlier this year.
The IDES audit showed that $5.2 billion was overpaid during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and an Illinois inspector general found that the Choate Mental Health and Development Center in Anna had more than 1,500 incidents of abuse and neglect reported over the last decade. Allegations include physical harm and lack of attention to the patients’ well-being.